Per Mertesacker’s appointment as our new academy manager from 2018/19 onwards may have caught some by surprise - but the man himself is bursting with pride.
Our club captain was facing the media in Sydney ahead of our tour games in Australia, and he discussed his new role and what it will be like to retire as a player at the end of the season.
This is what he said:
on how he feels about the appointment…
A lot of pride. It shows that the club believes in me, not only as a player. There are a lot of young players coming up and that’s why I’m very happy and very privileged to take over from next season. I’ve decided to stop playing, that was my first decision. I realised I had to stop after a very good and long career, and now I’m in the pre-season preparing for my last season [so I have to] to enjoy it as much as I can. Then we can speak about next season when I’ve finished this season. Then I have a new role without any background from being part of that side of the club. I’m very excited, obviously about this season to finish my career well, and then starting off an absolutely new role.
on whether he always wanted to be a coach…
I enjoy being vocal to young players during training, but I’ve never seen myself as a coach. I think to gain experience in that will be key as well, for my next chapter. But once Arsenal had the idea to implement me in the club, I slowly started to realise and think about what my purpose would be after playing.
on deciding to retire at end of this season…
First of all, that decision of whether I want to stop or not was difficult at the time. I have been fortunate enough to play more than 15 years in professional football and to make my own decision on when to stop is something I always wanted to do. When Arsenal came to me with the idea, I was up for it. To stop at the highest level is good for me and that’s why I decided to stop next year - even if I could have gone somewhere else, for example Germany, and played a couple more seasons. I am looking forward absolutely to this new role, to staying in football - those were the kind of things that convinced me, plus my family are happy in England, in London as well. What comes with that role, we will define that in this next year. Playing is the major part, but then we decide what experience I have to gain to set up myself into that role - if that is more on the coaching side, or the managing side, that is down to the season ahead.
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