Per Mertesacker admits that he still gets goosebumps when he reflects on the 2006 World Cup.
The Germany international was a key member of the squad that reached the semi-finals in their homeland after a string of fine performances.
Now 29, Mertesacker is set to play in his third World Cup but says the tournament eight years ago remains one of the highlights of his career.
I think it took us until 2006 to wave our flags and to show some patriotismPer Mertesacker
“It was fantastic - even the weather was absolutely fantastic during that time,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. “We were honoured to be in the squad, we felt amazing to be playing in our own country and everyone was really up for it.
“I still get goosebumps when I talk about this topic because I always have pictures in my head. The reception everywhere was fantastic. [I can still see] a lot of people chanting and cheering us. Not only in the stadium - everywhere.
“There was so much energy because everyone wanted to take us to the next level. I really wanted to join the public viewing [of the games] because it must have been absolutely outstanding to be involved with the energy of the crowd.
“That was the first time we started to wave flags again because Germany felt under pressure after the two World Wars. I think it took us until 2006 to wave our flags and to show some patriotism.
It was the key moment that we knew ‘now we are through' and a lot of baggage fell off the back and a lot of stones fell off the heartPer Mertesacker
“That World Cup was vital for us, not only for the national team but for the country as well.”
Mertesacker pinpoints Germany’s last-gasp victory against Poland in the group stage as a turning point in the World Cup.
“It was absolutely the best moment of that tournament,” he said. “We won the first game, then went into the second game against Poland and it was 0-0 until the last second.
“Then Oliver Neuville scored and the pressure [lifted]. It was the second win of the group stage and it was the key moment that we knew ‘now we are through' and a lot of baggage fell off the back and a lot of stones fell off the heart.
“We were really happy and together. The fans, the team, were all together.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Jun 2014