Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has admitted he was a ‘bit naughty’ in his early years at Arsenal with former teammate and now manager Mikel Arteta setting him on the right path.
The pair both arrived at the Emirates in the summer of 2011, with Bellerin joining the club as a scholar having previously played for Barcelona’s youth teams while Arteta joined the Gunners in a £10million deal from Premier League rivals Everton.
Mikel Arteta taught Hector Bellerin a lot as a teammateAFP – Getty
Bellerin, a first-team regular for Arteta in the current Arsenal set up, admitted he had mischievous traits and fell into the trap of living his life too wild outside of football.
Speaking candidly in ‘Unseen Journey’, a new documentary series produced by HIFEN Studios charting his rehabilitation from his anterior cruciate ligament injury, Bellerin said: “Mikel came to Arsenal when we had been here and there for a couple of years.
“I was in the tough team that Mikel was captain of and he was part of the Spanish group too; he looked after me.
“I was a bit naughty [at first], getting money, meeting girls and going out; all these things that everyone does. But not everyone has the responsibility that I have [as a professional footballer].
“He was like a big brother to me; when I did something wrong he would look at me and say don’t do that. Sometimes you need people to be honest and tell you straight and that make a difference.”
Fast forward to the current day and Arteta is now managing Bellerin, with the 25-year-old having a strong influence in the Arsenal dressing room.
And he’s done the same as his managerAFP – Getty
And it came as no surprise to the Spaniard when Arteta ventured into management – as he was so engrossed into the tactical side of football even as a player.
He explained: “We knew how good his ideas were when he was a player. He used to tell us he would do this and do that; and how he would manage the team [if he was in charge].
“I remember him telling us Pep Guardiola had offered him a spot to be his assistant and didn’t know whether to stay or go. I think he made the right decision.”
Underling Arteta’s impact on the current side, Bellerin referenced last season’s FA Cup semi-final against his former side Manchester City.
He explained: “We lost against Man City in the league [3-0] under Mikel and at Wembley so in the FA Cup [semi-final] it was our chance to win a trophy. Having been assistant to Pep he knew them inside out.
“That whole week we worked so hard on what we needed to do and that game we were so efficient when we got chances.
The Gunners progressed past City to beat Chelsea in last year’s FA Cup finalGetty Images
“We should have put the game to bed, then in the last few minutes we had to defend for our lives; which isn’t the prettiest way of playing.
“But it’s needed to be a team of champions; you need to know how to suffer and before we didn’t know how to suffer.
“Tactically the coach gave us all the help that we needed to get the win and we secured a spot in the final.
“I knew it wouldn’t be like any other final without our fans there. It was a huge chance for us to turn something negative into something positive.
“We were full of confidence [against Chelsea] and that comes from knowing where you need to be every time [on the pitch].
“I think everyone is seeing what he has instilled in the club and we are still building today.”
The nine-part documentary series, Unseen Journey, is available on Bellerin’s YouTube and Facebook channels from January 13
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