By Nick Ames in Kiev
Freddie Ljungberg’s life after Arsenal has taken him to all corners of the globe but the Swede admits that he is still a Gunner at heart.
Currently without a club after leaving Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse during the winter, the midfielder has kept tabs on the team he represented 313 times.
“Arsenal is a big part of my life,” Ljungberg told Arsenal.com. “I’m there quite often and live in London, so it’s important to me.
“I still keep in touch with my old team-mates, too. We’re all great friends, and I actually saw Jens Lehmann down in Munich recently. Most of us still talk a lot to each other.
“I enjoy watching the current team – it’s a young side and will hopefully get better and better. With the addition of one or two good signings, things look bright.”
A number of the ‘Invincibles’ squad have ended their playing days and another vital component of that Arsenal set-up stepped down during the summer. Ljungberg worked closely with Pat Rice during his nine years at Arsenal and had warm words for the long-serving assistant manager.
“Pat was in charge of the defensive unit and helped the likes of Ashley Cole to develop,” he said.
“He helped us in midfield as well and was an important part member of Arsène’s staff - he did wonders. Pat played a big part in incorporating a French culture into an English one and making it work perfectly.”
As well as Japan, Freddie has spent time in the United States and Scotland since his last spell in the Premier League for West Ham. He says that the experiences have been eye-opening, on and off the pitch.
“When I went to America, it was a big thing to learn about cultures and other people. That’s what I’ve been doing since leaving Arsenal - I’ve been to America and Japan and the experience has been amazing. You gain a lot and it’s important to me to learn from different people.”
Now 35, Ljungberg may not be hanging up his boots just yet. Despite a frustrating few months on the sidelines, he believes there may still be another challenge left in him.
“I’ve not been allowed to play football until July because the paperwork when I left Japan wasn’t signed until February,” he said.
“My body feels fine, there are no problems there, but it depends on what I want to do. We’ve said no to some offers, and there are others that I’ve said I’ll respond to in July. It has to be something extraordinary, otherwise I’m quite happy with my life.”Copyright 2016 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