The Big F*cking Academy Leading German!!!
I remember how Arsenal signed Per Mertesacker in August 2011. We had already lost club captain, Cesc Fabregas, and upcoming starlet, Samir Nasri, so things were uneasy at the club, with the fans voicing their displeasure over the club’s failure to even replace the stars that left. This was compounded with an embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, and things got so toxic, then Arsene Wenger made his famous trolley dash, signing Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun (on loan) and Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen.
In his first interview with the club, Mertesacker said that he had an emotional connection to Arsenal and he was very delighted to realize his Arsenal dream:
“When I was young, I visited England with my auntie, as somebody who was football crazy, I simply had to come back with a shirt.’
“I can’t remember why, but I came back with an Arsenal shirt and my brother had a Manchester United one. This affinity has grown over more than 10 years and now the loop closes because I am delighted to finally get to play at a team I always supported and where I always wanted to appear eventually.”
“I think Arsenal had been watching me for a while and had intended to sign me for a while. It was a strange situation for me because it was not clear for a long time what would happen and it dragged out to the very end. After the medical in London, it took until late on deadline day and I was unsure it would work out, but then I was delighted in the end. It is a dream come true.”
Six seasons, 210 appearances, eight goals and four trophies later, it has been officially announced the BFG will become the new Head of Youth Development at the start of the 2018/19 season. This position was vacated by Andries Jonker a couple of months ago, when he decided to try his hands in football management at VFL Wolfsburg.
Arsene Wenger labeled the BFG as an exceptional character that’s a great example to young players and the German was clearly delighted with the announcement,
“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family. This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team.”
Many fans have had their doubts about Mertesacker’s ability, using his slow pace as a benchmark for his ability as a defender, forgetting that he’s one of the most dominant defenders in the air, possessing the composure of a sniper and his ability to read the game and make his world famous ‘merteceptions’ are second to none.
For what its worth, his last appearance for the club in the FA Cup final against Chelsea was most accomplished performances I’ve ever witnessed from a defender. Bearing in mind that he had not played a game in ages, it was really astonishing seeing what he did on that famous evening in Wembley. So awesome, that the losing manager, Antonio Conte, had this to say,
“Per Mertesacker for me is a perfect example for any young professional football player,” said Conte.
“What he did today was just a consequence of an unbelievable attitude every day, even if not selected, until the Everton game in the squad. “He played his first game tonight and when he was not selected he worked even harder, which is why I pay a special tribute for him tonight.”
Mertesacker will go into the new campaign, knowing that it’s going to be his last as a football player and Arsenal’s captain. We can only hope it would be another trophy-laden campaign, starting with the Community Shield next month.
I wish him the very best in his new role at the end of the current campaign.
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