Every month in the Arsenal Magazine, we ask one of the first-team members about their home country.
Do the Gunners first-team stars have good local knowledge - and are they worldly wise?
Per Mertesacker GermanyName: Per Mertesacker
Born: Hannover, West Germany, September 29, 1984
Lived in: Hannover, Bremen (Germany), London
National know how
How would you describe your country?
Germans are very efficient! We are hardworking and I like being a German. I’m very proud of what we have done in the last 50 years. It’s a compliment to be called efficient. We are an export nation, we work really hard and economically we are quite strong. We’ve worked really hard for that in the last decades.
Name three things that are great about your country?
The financial stability, the fact that we are in a strong position in the EU and that we are a social nation.
And something you would like to change about your nation?
Capitalism made us very strong but on the other hand, other countries in the European Union are nearly bankrupt. Something is wrong with capitalism so I would try to change it. It’s an impossible task but something is wrong with the general system. That’s why I would try to figure out even more what the problems are and what we can do to avoid some problems we currently have.
What’s your favourite food from your country?
Different areas have different food but in general, Germany is well known for sauerkraut. I would name that first of all because it’s what you probably know from our country.
Which sports are popular, other than football?
Football is absolutely No 1. Behind that we have a couple of sports like handball, ice hockey, basketball and some winter sports. In general we are a sporting nation and have been very successful.
You still get 5,000 or 10,000 watching ice hockey, handball and basketball. We have very good facilities, which is a real strength. We are also known for our stadiums, halls and arenas.
Who does your country have their greatest rivalry with?
It’s very difficult because we have a lot of rivalries! In football I can name England, Holland and Austria.
In winter sports, Austria are the main rival. Each game is very interesting, especially when the two countries go against each other at international level. I can name Brazil and Argentina too because there are so many historical games that we’ve played.
Germany was always good at certain stages and we’ve got a big history. There are a lot of rivalries but they are very friendly. There’s not a rivalry with a lot of aggression.
Where are the best places to go on holiday in your country?
We have some lovely places around the North Sea. There are some really nice cities too, like Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. You can explore a lot. We’ve got great mountains with the Alps, then we have the Black Forest too. There is a lot to offer. Germany is a good place to go to visit.
Where would you like to go in your country that you haven’t been?
It would be nice to visit an island. We have lots of islands in the North Sea and I often went there in pre-season. You would go, train three times a day and not be able to see anything. I would like to go, relax and have a walk on the beach.
Who is the current chancellor of your country?
Angela Merkel is very popular, even if her party isn’t. She is above everybody else. She is a calm person, relaxed but efficient when she needs to be. She has a great reputation so far.
She’s very calm, kind and tries to do the best for us, for the country of Germany. She is still successful in the job. Soon it will be 10 years that she’s been in charge. As a person, she’s very strong and she always got the votes.
Tell us - if you can - he first line of your national anthem?
Einigkeit und recht und freiheit. It means unity and right and freedom. I sang that over 100 times when I played in the national team so I know it very well. It was always an emotional moment when it came to singing it.
What languages do you speak?
I speak German and English, but I learnt French at school.
What languages would you like to speak?
Maybe French and Spanish.
Tell us somewhere in the world you would like to visit.
Fifteen years ago, I would have said Brazil. But then I went there for the World Cup. This time I think I’ll say Hawaii, somewhere completely different. I’ve never been there.
What was the first trip you ever made out of your home country – and why?
My parents forced me to go somewhere! They loved to go to the mountains in Italy and Austria. They took care of me and loved walking around. I enjoyed it and we had great times together. Being with your family and enjoying your time together is really good for your education and development.
Can you name the capital cities of these three countries?
- Poland – Warsaw
- Wales – Cardiff
- USA – Washington
And can you name the countries from their Presidents/Prime Ministers?
- David Cameron – England
- Vladimir Putin – Russia
- Angela Merkel – Germany
Where is the next World Cup being held?
- In Russia, in 2018.
Who won the World Cup in these years?
- 1966 – Oh it’s the 50th anniversary next year for England!
- 1990 – That must have been Germany
- 2002 – We lost against Brazil in the final
What nationality are the following Arsenal legends?
- Dennis Bergkamp – Dutch
- Anders Limpar – It sounds Scandinavian... I’ll go for Swedish
- Lauren – I played against him. He played for Cameroon.
In which country do Arsenal de Sarandi play?
Oh, it sounds South American. I’ll guess at Brazil. (WRONG - Correct answer was Argentina)
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