Hector Bellerin says he is playing with freedom because of the faith Arsene Wenger and Gianfranco Zola have shown in him.
The 19-year-old right back made his Champions League debut against Borussia Dortmund in November and started Arsenal’s last four Premier League games.
Bellerin scored his first senior goal in the 5-0 win against Aston Villa and he believes his fine form is a consequence of coaching and encouragement.
"It’s something I didn’t expect - we were just having a test and then they told me I was the fastest at the club"
“He [Wenger] just told me all the time just to be confident and play like I was playing for the under-21s and Watford,” Bellerin said. “It’s nice that he has the courage to trust you. He knows you can do it, so that’s what’s made me perform the way that I have.
“Watford was a really good experience, especially with Gianfranco Zola as a coach - I learned a lot from him. It was just about getting involved in professional football for the first time, getting experience in the Championship and he played me since the first day.
“I’m really grateful and I call him sometimes to thank him because he was the one that gave me the chance and trusted me. I had a really good time over there and lots of people think that I had to come back because I wasn’t playing, but it was a really positive experience for me.”
Bellerin also made waves off the pitch by beating Theo Walcott’s record over 40 metres and the full back insists that, even though he has always been quick, he has worked hard to become even faster.
“There are some people who are just born quick and some people that are born slower,” the full back said. “But I worked a lot on my speed and power with the conditioning coach last year - that's something which has helped me a lot.
“The work that you don’t see, in the shadows, really shows on the pitch. My time over 40 metres was the fastest. It’s something I didn’t expect - we were just having a test and then they told me I was the fastest at the club. It’s nice to be able to say that I’m the quickest player.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.