Per Mertesacker set off from his homeland in August 2011 in search of pastures new. He arrived in North London with naught but his most meagre possessions.
The lanky bindlestiff carried what little he had (a pair of football boots, some spare underpants and a copy of The Blow Monkeys debut album on cassette) to the Arsenal training ground where he put down roots that have served others who followed.
First, Lukas Podolski, thumbs ablaze, joined him before this summer Mesut Ozil added to the German contingent at the club. And Mertesacker is happy to help others settle, knowing how tough it is as a stranger in a strange land.
“At first I was on my own here, with no Germans in the senior Arsenal squad, so it took me maybe one season to settle in completely,” he said.
Asked if assisting the king of assists was part of his job as assistant co-vice captain, he said, “I need to because it is very important to get him into the squad quickly, so that he can adapt and play with freedom.
“It is things like how to get on, how to come to the training ground, to get to whatever he wants to go. It is just a quick call or a text, you can help him out.
“We try to make it comfortable for him to adapt as quickly as possible and it fits.”
And after a storming start to his Arsenal career, Mertesacker says there’s more to come from the former Real Madrid man.
“We are delighted to have him here and to help him to get into the team. He has shown that he respects our game and that he does fit in. We can expect a lot (more) from him in the coming weeks, you could see that we needed his contribution and he is the right addition.”
“His vision is enormous and with him we are more dangerous and can compete at the higher levels.”
Higher levels. He’s 6’7!