Francis Coquelin has spoken about his first training session with Arsenal and how it was definitely a unique experience.
Speaking recently, the defensive midfielder revealed that he actually got into an argument with Jens Lehmann and saw two other players arguing on his first day.
“When I left Arsenal I wasn’t sure whether I would come back,” he said. “I remember my first training session with the first team and it was war. I said to the boss at the door when I left, ‘This is different!’
“I remember seeing two players fighting in training, and I had an argument with Jens Lehmann as well and I was thinking, ‘Wow, where am I?’
“Two weeks later we had the European Under-17 Championship and I was more worried about whether I would be alright to play in that [than whether I would get a deal].”
Coquelin signed for Arsenal when he was just 17-years-old and it’s fair to say that he’s bedded into the team nicely now. Although as fans we’re obviously shielded from a lot of the training ground drama, I find it hard to believe that players still argue boisterously nowadays.
The 24-year-old went on the explain the difficult decision he had to make when it came to signing for Arsenal – a club in another country to the rest of his family in France.
“It was a difficult decision because I had to leave my family in France,” he said. “But I thought it was time for me to go, so I went.
“It was tough at first. When you’re young, staying in a hotel room and not doing anything, not seeing your friends, not speaking the language, eating different food… it’s hard.
Coquelin continued, “Then I was straight in training with the first team, so I wasn’t really in with the reserves who were my age, and the only guy I could talk to was Gilles Sunu. He was injured at the time so the first month was difficult for me.
“But what helped me a lot was when I moved in with my first lodging family in Enfield. I’m still really close to them now and actually feel like part of the family.
“It really helped because I was talking to them every day so it felt a bit like home. On the pitch I felt much better too, and then I got to speak the language. My first year was unbelievable to be honest.”
Since then, the Frenchman has become an integral part of the team and can hopefully empathise with younger players who come from other countries. He has the makings of a good leader about him and using his own experience is part of that.