When a 13-year-old Cesc Fabregas was upset by the divorce proceedings his parents were undergoing, he received a gift from his idol Pep Guardiola - a signed first-team shirt that had scrawled on it: "One day you will be Barcelona's No.4."
On Monday afternoon, to a backdrop of 30,000 delirious Catalans enjoying a public holiday by taking in a trip to Camp Nou to see their new hero unveiled, that promise was finally fulfilled. Fabregas is Barcelona's No.4, as his new coach predicted, and eight years after undergoing his own divorce proceedings with his boyhood club, the midfielder's long-expected reconciliation is complete.
Unsurprisingly, Barcelona were keen to make quite the song and dance about it. In a lavish welcome, prior to his first press conference as a Barca player, clips were shown of Fabregas playing alongside Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique at La Masia as The Police's 'Every Breath You Take' was boomed over the loudspeakers.
The choice of music did make Early Doors giggle a bit.
The stalker's anthem of choice, Sting's creepy ode to obsession was undoubtedly the perfect musical accompaniment to the moment when Barcelona finally lured Cesc back to their home and their love was unrequited no more.
Because at times over the past few years, the club's behaviour has been pathologically obsessive with regard to the little midfielder who slipped their grasp in 2003 when a combination of a power vacuum at Camp Nou and Arsene Wenger's superior knowledge of Spanish employment law allowed Arsenal to snatch the 16-year-old midfielder from La Masia for a measly compensation package.
As Fabregas flourished into the continent's finest young midfielder bar none over the following years in North London, Barca inevitably began to tug on his heart, and he on Barca's. Though Tkixi Begiristain once claimed Barcelona were not prepared to re-sign the fruits of their academy who had looked elsewhere for career advancement, few believed him. And once Gerard Pique had returned from Manchester United in the summer of 2008, there was one man remaining. Operation Cesc became a fixation.
With Fabregas secured to a long-term contract - and Arsenal desperate not to sell a player whom Wenger had not only built a team around following the sale of Patrick Vieira, but whom embodied the entire philosophy of the club and team - Barca were prepared to play dirty.
Players queued up to urge Arsenal to allow Fabregas to return home last summer - headed by Xavi, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry thanks to his success in isolating and profiling 'Barca DNA' - while Carles Puyol and Pique had no shame in helping Pepe Reina whip a Barca shirt over the head of their team-mate following Spain's World Cup win. This summer, we were even told by the mayor of his home town, Arenys de Mar, that Fabregas had been "kidnapped" by Wenger as hostilities resumed.
The pressure became too much. The Catalan kid had his heart set on home, and though some fans have pointed the finger at Fabregas for his reluctance to train and play this summer, it should be remembered that it was Barca's refusal to make a decent offer early enough that forced the player to play hardball with Arsenal and ensure his move was sanctioned.
There is a need to divorce the behaviour of Fabregas and that of Barcelona during this saga. Yes, Fabregas arguably left the club he captained in the lurch to an extent this summer, but he has never been anything other than respectful in public. Unlike the club he joined on Monday.
Keeping private counsel has afforded Fabregas a largely recrimination-free departure, unlike erstwhile colleague Samir Nasri, who on Monday took to Twitter to describe as "disrespectful" those fans who called him the c-word during the Premier League game against Newcastle on Saturday.
No, Fabregas leaves with Arsenal's best wishes by and large, and he leaves as his legacy many wonderful memories: goals against Tottenham, Milan and Juventus, comedy spats with Mark Hughes and Sir Alex Ferguson, and those assists. So many assists.
But aside from an FA Cup win in 2005, that is all they are: memories, nothing as tangible as a medal, and like all memories they will fade incrementally, year by year. As Fabregas himself admitted: "The biggest regret I will have in my career, probably, [is] not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain."
Fabregas is no Arsenal legend in the mould of a Vieira or an Henry, an Adams or a Seaman, a Brady or a Bastin. His failure to win any medals when a team and strategy was constructed around him dictates as much.
What he was for Arsenal was simply a fantastically talented player, who never gave less than his all when on the pitch. Not a natural leader, but a man who identified readily with fans and left a real imprint with his ability on the ball.
He also acknowledged his debt to the club, and to Wenger, after signing his five-year deal at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
"I spoke to [Wenger] on Friday to say goodbye and got very emotional because he has been like a father figure," Fabregas said. "I couldn't even talk when I wanted to say how grateful I was for what he has done for me, so I had to send a message afterwards saying thanks for everything. If it was not for him I would not be here today to live my dream. I will never have enough words to say how grateful I am. I went from being a boy to a man and they gave me absolutely everything in football."
Fabregas also gave Arsenal plenty, some great years, but it is Barcelona, waiting to welcome their prodigal son back into the bosom of the finest team in football, who will have his best. From the moment Guardiola first handed him that shirt 11 years ago, perhaps it was always meant to be so.
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FOREIGN VIEW: During a 4-0 spanking of Union on Monday night, that witnessed a lovely goal from the one and only Juan Roman Riquelme, Boca Juniors fans chose to delight in the relegation of their rivals River Plate in June. Boca fans lit candles wrapped in River's badge and chanted "we won't be playing the chickens ever again" prior to kick-off at a jubilant Bombonera.
COMING UP: Having lost Fabregas, and with Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie and Arsene Wenger all banned, Arsenal are not in the greatest shape as they prepare to host Udinese in the first leg of their Champions League play-off at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. We will have live commentary of the game that kicks off at 19:45. There are also seven games taking place in the Championship.
Our Armchair Pundit delivers his latest column at lunchtime and we have plenty of Premier League video content for your delectation. Why not start by taking in Sergio Aguero's wonder debut at Etihad Stadium on Monday night?