He may now be widely regarded as one of Europe's best full backs, but Hector Bellerin feels moving to England at a young age was key to his development.
The Spain international grew up playing in a regionalised league for Barcelona before arriving in north London, where he was given “a really good taste” of what it meant to make it as a footballer.
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“Everything is much more professional in England, at an early age,” he told Arsenal Player. “I remember doing hydration tests, body fat tests, mobility tests, looking at the data after the games, during training sessions - everything.
“When I was at Barcelona it was all about the football. It was a completely different mentality. Also the league was way different in Spain. You play against the other teams in your region.
“For us that meant Catalonia and we only had a couple of games each season that were difficult for us. That was against Espanyol, the other top division team in the city.
“But here playing for Arsenal we used to play all around England against other Premier League teams. So the difference was really big in loads of senses.
“I also think in England you have to travel a lot and spend nights in hotels from an early age. That gives you a really good taste of what it's like as a pro footballer. You learn early on that it can be a lonely life. Of course you are with your team-mates, but you find out early that there a lot of things that you cannot do, and there are a lot of family events that you can't attend.
“You need to realise that from a young age and the fact you have to travel so much to play against teams far from home, it gives you an early taste of how it is at the top level.”
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