Mertesacker: Match day makes me feel sick

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker arriving ahead of a Premier League match (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker arriving ahead of a Premier League match (pic Martin Rickett/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed how the burden of needing to perform on a match day brings him close to throwing up.

The World Cup winner is set to take his first steps into management when he begins a role as Arsenal’s new academy manager from the start of the 2018/19 campaign.

Mertesacker has, however, continued to be part of Arsene Wenger’s first-team squad, but last featured in the third-round FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest in January.

Speaking ahead of the club’s home match against Watford, the 33-year-old gave a wide-ranging interview with German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, in which he addressed the issues he tackled on the pitch as well as looking ahead to the next chapter of his career.

“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,” former Germany international Mertesacker said.

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“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.”

Despite his difficulties, Mertesacker – who has won the FA Cup three times with Arsenal and captained the team, becoming a cult figure with fans – has no regrets.

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“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 said.

Mertesacker’s decision to retire has been brought on in part by a long-standing knee problem.

“My body is finished,” the German told Der Spiegel.

“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.”

Arsenal ended a four-game losing run with a 2-0 success at AC Milan in the Europa League on Thursday but are 13 points adrift of fourth place in the Premier League.

They lost 2-1 at Watford earlier in the season, but Arsene Wenger will add club record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was ineligible in Italy, to his squad.

Fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette (knee) remains sidelined, with Hector Bellerin (knee), Nacho Monreal (back) and Sead Kolasinac (ankle) also struggling.

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