Per Mertesacker says he’s at peace with his decision to retire from international football and hopes it’ll prove a boon to his Arsenal career.
The 29-year-old called time on a decade with the German national team this summer after earning his 104th cap in the World Cup final as Joachim Loew’s side beat Argentina 1-0 to be crowned champions.
Speaking to the Arsenal official matchday programme ahead of Saturday’s draw with Manchester City, the BFG reflected:
“It’s a new experience for me not to be involved with Germany and feel the pressure that comes with playing international football. I was always pleased to be part of the team but now it’s a different situation and I’ll try to get the best out of it. It might be a big advantage for me.
“[My career] was a long journey. During my 10 years, there was always a big motivation to achieve something and we did that by winning the World Cup. We always performed well in major tournaments but fell just short. After winning the World Cup, it felt like the right time to retire so another generation could step up.
“There’s a lot of potential in Germany and I’m absolutely happy with that. I think it’s better for me to retire now and refresh myself during these international breaks.
“My family are happy and my parents too. They said it would be totally fine to retire because I won so many caps and was fortunate to be part of the team.
“I think I have to be grateful for these years and it was just a perfect finish. Straight after we found ourselves back in the dressing room, it was the biggest relief of my life to be part of that squad. It went absolutely perfectly and with that title in my arms, it felt even better to retire.”
Appointed vice-captain on his return to the Emirates, Mertesacker also touched on how having more spare time will allow him to further focus on life with the Gunners.
“It’s another step up. Last year when Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta were injured, I was stand-in captain for a few weeks and it was a good feeling to be involved and know that the manager felt it was my responsibility to step up.
“I’ll try to behave the same way and get the best out of myself and the team, while communicating what is important for us. I won’t change anything – that’s a promise.
“I’ll try to give everything. The international break has helped me to think about Arsenal even more.”
Given we’re down to the bare bones at centre-back you can’t help but feel grateful that Per has taken the decision to remove himself from the line of fire. With all the extra time on his hands perhaps he might find a way of cloning himself during the next Interlull…he seems like an intelligent chap, it can’t be that hard.
Two BFGs…can you imagine? That’d be a great pic next to Santi.