Mikel Arteta says his professionalism on and off the pitch is the result of being mentored by some of European football’s biggest stars.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, the Spaniard, who is both lovely and should be given a chance to represent his country, reflected on his formative days at Barcelona’s Academy name checking an inspirational trio of first team stars.
“You have role-models, Pep Guardiola was one of them. When I was training with the Barcelona first team at 16 I was seeing him or Luis Enrique or Luis Figo.
“They were people who took the game really, really seriously and they were trying to help their teammates and they were brilliant with us.
“I was only 16 and they would really look after us and you see how nice it is when it is coming from someone like that.”
Talking about how the experience has influenced his own work with Arsenal’s younger players he continued:
“You felt really good being treated like that, why would you not do it to other people when you have the chance to help them? That’s what we try to do with the young lads here.
“Someone can tell you a lot of things, but when you see someone that you really appreciate do something the right way, for me there is no better example than that. You can talk and after [someone will] do something a different way, but when someone is always doing the right thing and trying to help the rest no matter the circumstances, it’s the best thing you can do.
“On the pitch and away from it I have been trying to behave the way I think we should, because I think we have a big responsibility [as footballers].
“Not only for ourselves but for what we represent to other people. We are in a very lucky position and we have to take advantage of that and use it in the right way. Sometimes we make too many mistakes!”
As one of the only first team players not to be on international duty over the next couple of weeks, Mikel will no doubt have the opportunity to pass on his experience (and hair grooming tips) to many of Arsene Wenger’s up and coming stars. Fingers crossed they take on board the advice of a player that commands respect not just at Arsenal but up and down the Premier League. Did we mention he’s lovely?