Per Mertesacker has made the heartbreaking admission that his body is completely ‘finished’ and he would much rather sit in the stands than play.
Per’s playing contract with Arsenal runs out at the end of the season.
Once it expires, the 33-year-old will become the head of the academy but it seems like the centre-back has already mentally hung up his boots.
In a frank interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Per has opened up about the mental and physical toll playing football takes on him and admitted that he’s no longer really able to keep up.
“Some days you realise that everything is a burden, both physically and mentally… but you have to deliver without a doubt, even if you are injured,” he said.
“In the moments before a game starts, my stomach turns around as if I had to vomit. Then I have to choke so violently until my eyes water.
“Even if I had to vomit before every game and go to rehab 20 times, I would do it all over again. It was worth it for all of the memories.”
He added, “My body is finished.
“Everyone says I should enjoy the last year, to play as much as possible and take everything in, (but) I would rather sit on the bench or – even better – in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free.”
It’s sad when any player admits their career has come to an end but when a fan favourite does so, it’s downright heartbreaking.
Although Per’s form has been noticeably off during his 11 appearances this season (including the Community Shield), he’s still a fan favourite.
The big guy loves Arsenal dearly, has been a fan since he was a child, and genuinely wants the best for the club. If only his legs could keep up with his head.
As upsetting as it is to hear that we’ve probably seen the last of Per on the pitch, at least we know he’ll still be working with players off it.
He’s an incredible man and an asset to the club.
Plus, one of the defender’s last matches for Arsenal was the FA Cup final win over Chelsea, in which the German bossed the game despite only just returning from 190 days on the sidelines after knee surgery. What a way to go.