- Spaniard took managerial reins in 2019
- Previously captained the Gunners
- A passionate character on and off the pitch
WHAT HAPPENED? The Spaniard returned to Emirates Stadium in a managerial capacity back in December 2019, when he was appointed as the permanent successor to Unai Emery, but had previously spent five years in north London as a player. He took on captaincy duties under the legendary Arsene Wenger and it was during this time that his path crossed with Emmanuel Frimpong – an academy graduate that may not have always been Arteta’s biggest fan at the time, but can now appreciate all that he has achieved as a player and coach.
WHAT THEY SAID: Frimpong, who stepped out of Arsenal’s youth system in the same summer of 2011 as Arteta arrived at Emirates Stadium, told GOAL: “He is very serious. He’s a serious guy. He likes to win – he loves to win! It’s all about winning. When he was playing with me at the time, he was somebody who used to take his training very seriously After and before training he is in the gym, stretching and the ice bath. He’s a top, top professional. It’s no surprise that he is where he is at the moment, as manager of Arsenal at such a young age, it just tells you what the people at Arsenal really think of him. As soon as he finished playing professional football, Pep Guardiola wouldn’t have told him to go and be his assistant if he didn’t know what he’s doing. Arteta is a top coach and deserves to be where he is. When he was playing, he was very dedicated to his craft.”
Frimpong went on to say of Arteta’s character: “He was a player that liked to lead by example. He doesn’t talk much, but if you are doing something that he feels you are doing wrong, he will have an opinion and tell you ‘you should be doing it this way’. At the time I used to think he was quite annoying because, being a youngster, I wanted people to let me do what I wanted to do. But Arteta would come over and be like ‘no, you should stretch like this’. I used to think this guy is busy. He was just professional and wanted you to do the best that is going to help the team. Arteta is a top guy.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Arteta’s passion as a player has transferred into the dugout, with the Amazon Prime ‘All or Nothing’ documentary showcasing just how far he is prepared to go in pursuit of victory – with speakers taken to the training ground to belt out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and light bulbs figuring in some odd pre-match team talks. Frimpong said of those methods: “If managers were not odd, they would not be managers! Sometimes you look at Pep is talking to the bench and there is nobody there, they do strange stuff. That’s what makes them different from us. That’s what makes them see the game differently to normal football fans.
"Maybe what he did was a bit odd – going to the pitch and taking a stereo to be able to play the Liverpool anthem. It’s odd, but at the time he felt like that was what he needed to do. Managers, they over-think things. He just thought the players needed to be ready for this game. It didn’t help because they lost the game at Anfield but I don’t think he’ll be doing it this year. Arsenal have more than enough power and tools to be able to go there and beat Liverpool. At the time they were really scared of Liverpool. This time it will be different. Hopefully this time it will be Klopp playing music at the training ground for his players.”
AND WHAT'S MORE: Pressed on whether eccentric team talks can actually help to narrow focus, rather than allow players to zone out, Frimpong added: “It takes your attention and makes you more focused because it’s something that is out of the usual. He doesn’t do it everyday. Sometimes you have to try things to get the result that you need. Arteta moving forward, as an Arsenal fan and an ex-team-mate, I hope he will be there for a number of years because I feel there is so much he can give. He is still young and learning, so imagine him in 15 years and the wisdom he will have. Arteta is definitely a manager that Arsenal need to keep for a long time.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty
WHAT NEXT? Arteta has Arsenal sat five points clear at the top of the Premier League heading into a meeting with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday that sees Frimpong posting a correct score tip of 2-1 to the Gunners, and he is hoping to deliver a first English top-flight crown to north London since Wenger's fabled 'Invincibles' of 2003-04.