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The season impression: One Big F****** German

By Walter Broeckx

When I started this series I didn’t know the result of the player of the season poll amongst Arsenal supporters. As I came to the part of the central defenders I just found out that you (that is if you are a Gooner and voted on arsenal.com) have seen what I have seen all these years.

Per is a world class defender, a world class player, a world class team mate, a world class guy, a world class person in general and I bet he will be a world class father for his second child that was born a few days ago.  Speaking about that child he will not see his father a lot in the next month I think.

I might repeat myself but from the moment when I heard about the news that we were interested in Per Mertesacker I was excited. Not because he outed himself as a Gooner before he came to us (that did help of course).  But because I have had the chance (and still have) to follow the Bundesliga a bit and I do follow the German national team a bit as I think they are one of the best footballing teams in the world for a long period now. And thus I knew what an amazing defender Per can be.

I knew about his ability to read the game and to look inside the attacker his head and react to a situation before the attacker realises it was Per telling him to put the ball there and that was just the spot Per wanted it.

Of course he has weaknesses. Every player has. Per is slow, turns like a container ship and you probably heard it all what has been said about him when we signed him in a ‘panic buy’ moment.  Well what a panic buy he has been then. More of those please.

What I think is very important is that Per knows he is not an Özil, Messi, Hazard type of player. He knows his limitations very well. And he tries to avoid that he gets exposed on them. And do to this he has to use his head. And that is his most important value I think. Using your eyes, ears and then quick thinking and deciding. And when you look at the distance he has to cover to make his body react it is amazing how good he really is in defending.

And the fact that he hardly commits fouls when defending is another amazing thing. He hardly got any yellow or red cards when playing in Germany. He did get a few more than average in England but that might go down to the fact that he is playing for Arsenal so is only half allowed what players from other teams can do.

Now I am not saying that he doesn’t make mistakes. He does like any other player does. But he will not be terrified by his mistakes any more. That did happen in the beginning of his Arsenal career. When the media were on his back and the short sighted part of the fans were waiting for every slip of him to announce him being not good enough. Well they were right. He is just not good enough. In fact he is excellent in what he does. Much, much better than good.

What he also has is that he as an amazing stamina.  It looks at times that he can keep on running. Apart from the odd stumble we saw on a very inappropriate moment in the cup final. You put him on the field and he will do his job for the whole match.

He also gives the impression of being extremely calm and relaxed. Both outside and inside the field. A person you don’t really think of in terms of being very passionate. But he has shown his passion at big moments.  I could see him celebrate when we won against Everton when we scored our third goal and the match was definitely won.  That was a joy coming from deep. The reaction after he scored the equaliser against Wigan after he had made a rare defensive mistake and gave away a penalty in the FA cup semi final.  I’m pretty sure he was crying when he came from under his team mates.

And when we won the FA cup final he fell flat out on the floor for the almost whole 2 meters of him and when holding the cup you could see the pride and joy.  I think the others had to wrestle him off the cup to let it go at times as it surely was also his cup for a big part. And I don’t think you want to fight against him. Not that he is such an aggressive person. Not at all.

That is shown in his own charity foundation.  That from a few months ago is selling t-shirts with the Big F******* German on it. He once admitted that at first he didn’t understand the fact we would call him the way he did.  But it was a strange way to express our feelings of amazement and admiration to this Big German.  Like in this is f****** awesome. But he was quick to make the BFG mark his own.

His charity foundation was founded in first order to help people with depression. One of his teammates at Hannover suffered from that most debilitating disease, serioius depression. Nobody knew. Per knew. It was his goalkeeper at Hannover, Robert Enke, who had fallen into depression after his daughter had died in 2006.   It was a loss he never could recover from and he killed himself in November 2009 just two days after having played his final match for Hannover. And I think that it was this that persuaded Per to get his foundation running.

This shows the Big Friendly German side of Per Mertesacker more. And it is one of the reasons I even like him more.

As you will probably know by now Per Mertesacker finished second in the player of the season poll at arsenal.com. And I am one of those who voted for him. Because I felt that he needed recognition for his amazing influence in and outside the field. A Gooner that has become a Gunner. A real honour for him as he has said on many occasions. And I think he is a real ambassador not just for the Arsenal as a club but for the whole football world.

You can buy the official Per t-shirt on Amazon

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25 comments to The season impression: One Big F****** German

  • jambug

    Great write-up Walter.

    You have gotta love our BFG.

    Contrats on the LFG by the way. 🙂

  • Shard

    Agree completely about our BFG.

    I hadn’t seen much Bundesliga to make an informed judgment, but I knew him to be one of the Bundesliga’s top defenders, and had seen him for years in the German team. It was laughable the way the so-called journalists tried to tell us all that Mertesacker was pretty useless. He had some problems settling in, and injured himself by steppin in a ditch in Sunderland’s ground the first season, but has been fantastic since, in every way.

    And what a partnership he has formed with Koscielny. Who wants his own song. Loved the way they lifted the cup together 🙂

    PS. On an unrelated note, but can Untold please cut out the autoplay video ads? Those are annoying since I don’t use adblocker.

  • Stan

    He is awesome! He should be our next captain.

  • Mick

    Good article Walter, an apt and fitting portrayal of our fantastic BFG. I can see him making an excellent career in football management when he retires, he ticks all the boxes. A future Gunners boss would you agree?

  • Arvind

    Thanks Walter. Indeed what a signing. Under 10 million too if I’m not wrong. I voted for the BFG too and was a bit disappointed when Aaron got it : ) … but I can understand that too – its usually goals that win you matches.

    And probably its hard to separate BFG and Kos… as they were both simply outstanding. So maybe it’s right Aaron gets it.

    For me, BFG and Arteta have been absolutely huge in the last 3 years or so. Arteta even more. I’ll go out and say…if Arteta hadn’t been around .. we might have dropped out of the top 4 one of these years. Same with the BFG, with a slightly lesser impact. That’s me anyway.

    Everyone obviously chipped in – but these 2 players were key for me, holistically.

  • nicky

    A well-deserved tribute to “the leader of our back four”.
    And a future captain of our Club, I think.
    But I wish he wouldn’t release the ball so quickly, when in possession and there is space ahead of him.

  • jambug

    I think BFG for Captain is a good shout, but Aaron long term seems another good shout to me.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Just hope the centerback pairing have a safe WC and come back ready for next season .
    The BFG is an easy to like character and his joy seems to rub off the others too !

  • AL

    Per is a solid defender, a very intelligent one at that. Unfortunately, as Walter points out, he had to ‘win over’ certain sections of the media and fans before they could grudgingly concede how good he is. The same fate befell Koscielny and he had to go through the same bashing before the sceptics conceded he’s good. Ozil is going through that right now(despite having the best assist stats in Europe). In fact, any player joining Arsenal (regardless how good they’re, and this includes Messi) will have a tough first season while the sceptics come up with all sorts of denigrating terms for what would be viewed as success elsewhere but Arsenal, in their eyes. Clowns.

  • oldgroover

    Where did the BFG saying originate, as he’s not all that big at all if the truth be told? At 6’4″ he’s quite skinny compared to Olivier Giroud who’s 6’4″ of muscle.
    Bit like the old Jimmy Reed song Big Boss Man. “Big Boss Man, you’re not big, just tall that’s all”
    Definitely a future captain, who has already been delegated with the responsibility of collecting players fines for breaches of club rules.

  • gouresh

    He is like a giraffe when he runs and when he looses balance, my heart stops beating as i know that there is trouble behind and i also cannot stop myself laughing because its quite comical. But bearing his weakness which we know is speed and turning circle, what a f**king good player.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great player and future legend. My vote for player of the year, due in part to his ever present ness, his play….and a very important goal that may just have saved…..well who knows what…
    I voted knowing of course it would be won by a very worthy recipient and the player I admire above all others.
    BFG will …hopefully a long time from now….end his career much more loved than many of our recent stellar names

  • jayramfootball

    I F****** LOVE the BFG. I thought it was an absolute and utter disgrace the way the press treated him before he even kicked a ball for Arsenal. He has well and truly rubbed their noses in it now because he has emerged as one of – if not THE – best central defenders in the PL.

    I can’t add much more to your article Walter – I agree with it all. But I do have one thing. You forgot to mention his distribution of the ball. It is really world class and I am not just talking about the short passes in defence. Per has the ability to thread the ball to the midfield at just the right pace and in just the right place to give them a yard of space. It is subtle, but it is brilliant.

  • jambug

    jayramfootball

    Very well put, especially the bit about the media.

    But as AL points out, they do that to pretty much every player we buy.

    The thing is, they never seem to put there hands up and say how wrong they where, they just carry on like they always said he was great.

    I hate the fucking media !

  • Stevie E

    Oldgroover
    Per is 6’6″

  • oldgroover

    Stevie E
    Which makes him even skinnier.BFG my arse!

  • bjtgooner

    The BFG is now one of the best center backs in the EPL & as others have stated has a wonderful partnership with Kos.

    But lets not forget the Verminator, who is also a super center back & if he avoids the plethora of injuries he has suffered this season will surely play more next season & allow for some rotation.

  • Blargh

    Arsenal buys a defender with (at them time) 75 matches for “Der mannschafft” and the british media says he’s not good enough? Morons the lot of them.

  • jayramfootball

    @jambug , not only do they just ignore what they have said, the media actually delete and cover up archives. I tried searching for the “Hartle-fool” article, including historic newspapers because I wanted to find out who the journalist was. Basically it is hard, near impossible, to find. The only evidence of it is in chat forums, blogs, etc..

    Does anyone know who the journalist was. I want to drop him/her a note.

  • Gord

    Arsenal.com has a current article about the “Double Club”, which mentions Per and Serge Gnabry.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20140604/arsenal-double-club-on-german-television

    The only thing I ever got good at, was counting in German. Being an engineer, I guess that is understandable. 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    I watched the Germany match last night. The BFG had a reasonable game, but it looked to me as if he is more comfortable with his normal partner beside him.

    However, Podolski and Ozil played really well, looked very sharp and incisive.

  • jambug

    jayramfootball

    I didn’t realise they did that. For some reason I thought entire papers where stored for posterity. Even in the old days before the ability to store everything electronically I thought every edition of every newspaper was stored somewhere.

    Maybe that’s just me believing ‘Hollywood’.

    Either way jay, don’t give up, and if you do find it be sure to bring him back here and make his ignorance famous.

    But really, for an industry that wallows in the ‘we told you so’ headline, it is shameful they bury there bullshit mistakes that like.

    I hate the fucking media !

  • WalterBroeckx

    Gord,
    Einz, zwei, drei, fier, funf… 🙂

    As Germany is one of my neighbours I always felt it important to learn their language also. Many of my friends found it too difficult and didn’t like the language. But our teacher (may he rest in peace) was such a great teacher and he really tried to pass on the love for the German language (and the English as he gave both).
    I thank him for being such a good teacher so even now more than 30 years after having finished school I have no problem in understanding and speaking German. And it is helpful in what I do here at Untold.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Most of who grew up in the sixties and seventies learned what little German ( and some French & Japanese) from the British comics about WW2.
    While it was mostly historically correct and very informative, it was naturally one sided and our young minds were thus suitable corrupted .
    The same applied to the Westerns ( comics and movies). What a great cheer would go up as the bugle sounded and Calvary appeared and chased away the ‘savage’ Red Indians.
    On the plus side we learned about football from ‘Roy of the Rovers ‘ ,’Billy’s boots’ and my favourite , ‘Nipper’ Lawrence.

  • NW

    To be honest, Per is such a great person. He has chivalric quality that is reare nowadays.

    Sometimes you want him to be a bit more nasty as a big defender but this is Arsenal and defenders got cards while other defenders don’t. Therefore it is a real asset.

    Problem with Per is that he makes one mistake too often. He can be good 90 minutes and suddenly go off. Everyone makes mistakes but when he is slow in run and turns, mistakes look far worse. That really hamper his whole package.

    That is why he needs good cover from DM and other CB just in case. In return, he get things settled and organized.