By Walter Broeckx
Okay I hope my wife doesn’t read this and gets in to wrong ideas. No I still am the same my dear, still love you in the husband and wife life we live. But most football supporters have a player that they love as if it was their own son or brother. I don’t dare to say who was the last player I loved like that. The first and last player to be on the back of my shirt. Now I stick to my own name. Because I will never leave.
But Hector…. oooooohhhh the temptation to do it again is oh so big. And not just today when the news filtered through that he signed a new long term contract at Arsenal. I have seen mentioned that he has signed a new 6.5 year contract. Oh dear that should fend off some possible money wavers and dna-teams.
I must say that when he first signed as a 16 year old I looked at some video clips from his time at Barcelona. I am usually awful in saying who will make it or not but even for me it wasn’t that difficult to see that he had something special. At Barcelona he played the whole right flank but not really as a defender. And that is what Arsenal made of him.
But wait a minute. Don’t ever dare to say that Bellerin is a defender. In the discussion I had after the Tottenham match when I said the tiny ones played with 5 defenders people wanted to correct me. No, no they said it was a 3 man defence. Well for me Walker is a right back. And Rose a left back. Add to that 3 central defenders and in my maths that is 5 defenders.
For those who disagree I will now say that Arsenal always only plays with 2 defenders this season. Mustafi and Kos. Because if Walker is no right back, the Bellerin is no right back. And if Rose is not a left back, then Monreal or Gibbs is not one.
The reason is simple because both Bellerin and whoever plays left back will attack whenever they can. So those still claiming that the tiny totts play 3 defenders, we play two.
With that out of the way lets us place our attention back to Hector. I have bored you before with the story that a few years ago I went with a few board members of our supporters club to Dortmund to see the Arsenal youth league team. That was the first time I saw Bellerin play in the flesh. For about 60 minutes he played Dortmund off the pitch. I was drooling all over him. My vice-chairman was drooling over Jon Toral who had came over with Hector from Barcelona at the time. Hector then went off injured and suddenly Dortmund was the best team. His impact (from right back FFS!!!) was that big.
Then the loan to Watford more or less failed. But maybe it was more because at Watford they didn’t understood what they had in their hands. And maybe because Hector was just not ready enough to make the final step at that moment.
And then one year after seeing him shine in the youth league match at Dortmund he suddenly was thrown in the deep in front of the yellow wall. Sink or swim, they said. Well it wasn’t really swimming that he did. More drowning. But he just managed to reach the shore and got himself out of the water.
Most youngster might drop their shoulders and think their chance was over. But because of the injury to Debuchy and Jenkinson being out on a season long loan the only option was Bellerin.
And then came the speciality from Bellerin above water. Learning from your mistakes and do better next time. After seeing him play in the youth league cup I made a daring prediction. I said he would be our Danny Alves. The Brazilian right back who was famous for his attacking play at Barcelona. Despite hating him I can still admit when a player is one of the best in his job. And I said that Bellerin would do the same for us one day. That was four years ago.
And what Bellerin means for Arsenal can be seen when he is not around. I think one of the reasons our attacking didn’t work at Old Trafford is because of Hector being injured. I will not say a bad word about Jenkinson as I think he did an excellent defensive job. But offensively he is only a quarter of Bellerin.
I think even Jenkinson will admit this. Because that is something you have or don’t have. Hector has it. Lots of it. Jenkinson is more the pure defender. Hell, maybe even a better defender than Hector when it just comes to defending. But Arsenal is not about defending. It is about attacking and then defending.
Last weekend we couldn’t play or bring up the ball from right back as we usually do. That was a big handicap we couldn’t overcome. And that isn’t being critical about Jenkinson but this is just because… well …I think Bellerin is just about the best right back in the world of football. And he is still only 21 years young! Imagine the growth potential still there!
I don’t listen to rumours or read them but even I heard the rumours of Manchester City and Barcelona. And at times I feared we might lose him. But Hector just made my day, my week…. “Leaving never, ever crossed my mind,” he said. I must admit I went a bit emotional when I heard him say that.
How I would have loved to have been able to cheer from him next Sunday when I come over to the Emirates. But as he is injured he will not play I’m afraid. But he sure made me love him even more than I did. Give this Gooner a song of his own. He fully deserves it!