Hector Bellerin

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Hector - My earliest memories of Arsenal

Leaving home and moving to a new country is always a challenge - especially when you’re a teenager and making the switch on your own.

But that’s the step Hector Bellerin had to take when moving from Barcelona to Arsenal. So what are his earliest options of swapping La Masia for London?

“We were blowing, we had no breath whatsoever [in early training sessions]," he told Arsenal Player. “We were thinking 'what have we got ourselves into? This is not what we came here to do!" But then in the afternoon we played some football.

“That was what struck us the most though. When we were back at Barcelona everything was with the ball, even every single physical activity, it always involved the ball.

Hector Bellerin celebrates with the FA Cup

“So it was a bit different to us but by the second season I wasn't one of the last players in the runs, I was one of the first, so you could see the improvement I had made physically.

“That's certainly the thing that struck me the most at first.”

Bellerin was made to feel welcome here by a number of people - some of whom he still has contact with on a daily basis.

“I could name a lot of people but if I had to say one on the pitch, then obviously Steve Bould was one of my biggest mentors, I've always said that,” he added. “He's probably the one I learnt the most from here at Arsenal.

“But as well Dennis Rockall was our kit man, and he really made us feel at home from the very first day. He got us into English culture, and even taught us some cockney rhyming slang. A load of that stuff, he told us all sorts about where to go on holiday here in the UK, all random things like that, but it was good for our knowledge and helped us settle in.

“He was a very welcoming person and was always taking care of the foreign guys. He retired a couple of years ago and it was sad, because you always like to see those sort of people around the club.

“It's the same with Vic Akers in the first-team dressing room. I could name a lot of people who helped me at the start at Arsenal - my landlady and family that I lived with - everyone made me feel at home.”


Can you answer these 10 tough Bellerin questions?

Hector Bellerin

Hector Bellerin has been popular with our fans ever since he broke into our first team in 2014.

The Spain international has since gone on to make more than 100 senior appearances for us, but how well do you know him?

Find out by taking our quiz below:


Why Hector’s planning for life after football

He may only be 22 years old, but Hector Bellerin is already planning for life after football.

The Spain international recently received a diploma in marketing from the University of Pennsylvania, and has even discussed creating a marketing agency with his housemate.
“Sometimes football players get into their thirties and start thinking about what they’re going to be doing after,” Bellerin told Arsenal Player. “Suddenly, they might get injured and things are rushed. You end up not playing football and not thinking about what you’re going to do when you retire.
“I’ve known people who have had football taken away from them and have found it hard to know their purpose in life. It’s important to me to have clear things in my mind, even at such a young age, because you never know what could happen with injuries.
“It’s not just with age. A friend of mine had to stop football because of a cardiac arrest when he was really, really young. These things happen in football, so you always have to be ready for it.
“Hopefully, if God wants me to finish my career in my later years, I will have all these years to keep learning other things and have the clarity in my head of knowing what to do.”


Bellerin - How sport science has changed the game

The Premier League may have become the most-watched division over the past 25 years, but some of the most significant developments have actually happened behind closed doors.

Having broken into our first team just three years ago, Hector Bellerin is one of the youngsters to have benefitted from the advent of sport science, and the 21-year-old says it would have been ‘impossible’ for the English game to be as successful without it.

“It’s proven that all the stuff in your recovery and working on your power helps when you’re on the pitch,” he told Arsenal Player. “Obviously you need to have the right mentality, you need to be good technically, but football is getting so advanced and the level is so high that every little margin is something that is very important nowadays. 

“All those little margins that you can get by jumping higher, being quicker, recovering better in between games is something that is key these days. At this club especially, it’s something that has been very important over the past two years.

“We have a cryo-chamber here now, which you stay in for three minutes at -130 degrees. I’m sure that if they told the players to do that 25 years ago, they wouldn’t be on it! Stuff like that helps you recover your body, recover your muscles. Having something like that when you’ve got two or three games in a week is something that can give you that advantage in a game.

“One of the things that’s made the Premier League such an enjoyable league to watch is that it’s not just the football, but also the physicality of it. The strength of the players, the speed, that’s what makes the Premier League so amazing and entertaining to watch. If you didn’t have all these techniques or methods of working that we have nowadays, it wouldn’t be possible.”


Hector - How moving to London changed me

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.

“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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