It has been long in rocks for some time now. (Former) Arsenal Captain and midfielder Mikel Arteta had announced his retirement from the beautiful game at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Mikel began his career at Barcelona and went on to represent Spain at various youth levels, winning the UEFA Under-16 Championships in 1999. After two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain he signed for Glasgow Rangers, winning the domestic treble in his debut season in Scotland. Following a short spell at Real Sociedad, Mikel joined Everton, where he spent six years as the creative linchpin of their midfield, winning their Player of the Season award twice.
Having joined Arsenal on deadline day in the summer transfer window of 2011 (along with 4 others), he was given the number 8 jersey, vacated by some Frenchman just a week earlier. In the 5 years that he played at the Emirates, he has carved out a place of huge respect among the Arsenal faithful with his utmost professionalism and dedication the club and the game itself. What I personally like about him is that he joined an almost sinking ship, he never moaned when left out of the squad or even being played out of position. He remained at the club even when a certain Dutchman left the following season. He has sacrificed. And if that is not Captaincy material then I don’t know what is. He became the chief penalty taker in his time at Arsenal and scored in all but one of the 10 penalties he took. And if you doubt his attacking prowess then have a look at this stat:
1. With 100 fouls committed against him in the 2006-07 season, he was the most fouled player in the Premier League.
2. With his total of 12 league assists in the 2006–07 season being third to Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Arteta first captained the Gunners in the third-round FA Cup victory over Leeds United, most notably remembered for the second debut of Henry in the 2011-12 season. He was made permanent Captain in the 2014-15 season after Thomas Vermaelen departed for Barcelona. He won his first trophy as full-time captain, playing the full 90 minutes as Arsenal beat Manchester City 3–0 in the 2014 FA Community Shield which was later followed by an FA Cup and a further FA Community Shield the following year.
His last game for Arsenal will be known for a lot of reasons but mostly because we finished above that lot down the lane after what looked quite impossible a few weeks back. It would have been more fitting if his shot would have been a goal instead of an own goal. He got a tad bit emotional towards the end when he received a standing ovation from the crowd as tears made their way out. I will personally miss his superb strikes towards goal, particularly THAT goal vs Manchester City will always be special. Peach of a shot. He absolutely owned Petit Pute in the field and the displaying of the banner ‘You Can’t Buy Class’ was utterly fitting for the occasion.
What he has taught us is how to fight when you don’t have the legs to. How to remain calm under pressure.
How to react with ultimate professionalism under confronting circumstances and how to still be loyal and dedicated to your work through honesty and hard work. And also how to play on even when you lose a tooth or two during the game. Wherever he goes to coach next we hope eventually, he returns to where he belongs- The Arsenal. For now, Mikel Arteta, you have our respect. You shall be missed- El Captain.