Interview

Arteta - I always thought I'd come back

Mikel Arteta says it's a dream come true to return to Emirates Stadium as our head coach - and he'll try to enjoy what lies ahead.

 
The last time our former captain was seen in Arsenal colours in north London, he was basking in the acclaim from our fans after ending his playing career with a goal and a richly-deserved ovation in May 2016.
 
The tears flowed as Mikel walked around the pitch for one final time as a player, but he always thought he would return.

 
"I remember the last time I was going down the tunnel, with my kids in my arms," he recalled. "I said to my wife, 'One day I will come back here as the manager'. It has come a little quicker than I expected but that was a dream.
 
"I've got more family now - I've got more kids! I've had more experiences but I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do so, two years before my retirement, I started to do my coaching badges. I already had that feeling that I wanted to try this game over that line, and I am really happy where I am."
 
Mikel admitted towards the end of his playing career that he didn't enjoy those years as much as he should have, because he put himself under so much pressure. There's no doubt that his intensity and high standards will hold him in good stead as a head coach, but Mikel wants to make the most of this next chapter.
 
"I am trying to enjoy it more, and I am enjoying it," he said. "This profession deserves to be enjoyed a lot.
 
"A lot of things happen along the way - injuries or situations that you have to face - that sometimes doesn't allow you to see the whole picture. But hopefully I have people around me to pinch me a little bit every day and say 'Look where you are, enjoy it.
 
"'Work as hard as you can and make the most out of it and try to be professional, but at the same time, you know, this is a reward for what you've been preparing for.'"

 

 

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