Arsenal recently announced that at the end of the season Per Mertesacker will retire from playing and become head of the academy.
Per spent much of the last season injured, only getting a place in the squad again at the very end. With some Arsenal fans unconvinced at the time whether he could still do a job for the team, he then proved all the doubters wrong by first closing out a win against Everton with 10 men, and then providing a standout performance against Chelsea to win the FA Cup final.
Having proved his commitment on the pitch, Mertesacker went on to prove it off the pitch, by agreeing to this new role. On arriving in Sydney, Per spoke to the press about the opportunity on Tuesday morning. He initially talked about how proud he was that the club had chosen him for this position:
“It shows that the club believes in me, not only as a player,” he said.
“There are a lot of young players coming up and that’s why I’m very happy and very privileged to take over from next season.”
He then talked about his decision to stop playing, and his options if he’d wanted to continue:
“To stop at the highest level is good for me and that’s why I decided to stop next year – even if I could have gone somewhere else, for example Germany, and played a couple more seasons. I am looking forward absolutely to this new role, to staying in football – those were the kind of things that convinced me.”
So rather than heading off for one last payday, Per made the decision to try and finish on a high and then stick around with the club. I think all Arsenal fans will join us in hoping the club captain has a memorable final year.