Earlier this week, Arsenal announced that Tobin Heath would be returning to the US shortly before the conclusion of her contract. Heath has endured an injury ravaged year with the club.
However, Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall was keen to play up her influence on and off the pitch during her season with the club. “I spoke about this with Tobin when we talked about her going back to the US, her standards are so high and I think she wanted to contribute even more to the club,” Eidevall said. “I can see she did a lot of things on and off the pitch that leaks through to other players.
“The way she approached situations, for example. Like half-time in the Brighton game in January (when Arsenal were 1-0 down) she told the players ‘it’s better when it’s tougher.’
“That is a brilliant mindset to have, it’s all about that mindset that says you don’t like that situation but you like that situation. It is what it is. It’s a tight game, it’s just a matter of how you look at it.
“Do you go out with fear and say ‘what if we lose this game?’ Or are you motivated and do you take it as a challenge? Do you say ‘it’s better when it’s uncomfortable because it brings out a better version of me?’
“We had to fight for it and I hope that mindset stays with the players even though Tobin isn’t here anymore. She will always be that marker and that’s the beautiful thing when you work with people who you can still live through even when they are not here anymore because of how they inspired you when you worked with them.
“If we did manage to win the league this season, she will have been a very big part of that as well. I think we just came to a situation where it was ‘what gives Tobin the best possibility to get back on the pitch as quickly as possible?
“That was to go back to the US now, nothing more, nothing less. We just took the decision that was best for her to continue her football career in the way that she wanted to.”
A big goal from a big player.
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Eidevall says that he hopes Heath’s influence continues to rub off on the players and said that the beauty of working in football is the opportunity to have an enduring impact on your colleagues.
“This might be a really bad analogy but you know the movie Avatar, where they connect themselves to that tree? I think that’s kind of the way it works with a football team.
“We are all coming into a team and we all have experiences from different countries and different coaches and we share all of those things with each other.
“Forever after we leave, we all have an impact. The players I have now will have an impact on me and I think it’s a very beautiful way of looking at life and the impact you can have on others. It’s so much bigger than the specific moment.”