Thomas Vermaelen says he has enjoyed the responsibility of being Arsenal’s vice-captain this season.
The former Ajax defender stepped into the role after Robin van Persie took up the captain's armband following the departure of Cesc Fabregas last summer, and has gone on to become one of the Gunners' most consistent performers.
Despite an injury-plagued start to his career at the Emirates Stadium, the Belgian international has grown in stature at the heart of Arsenal’s defence and he believes his role as vice-captain has helped him develop as a player and a person.
“When the boss made me vice-captain it made me proud,” the defender told Arsenal Player. “I am really happy to be vice-captain of such a big club like Arsenal.
“I feel the responsibility to help the captain in his role as well, and of course that means the Club and the boss give you a lot of confidence.”
Arsenal pipped rivals Spurs to third in the Premier League this season, something which ultimately proved crucial as they ensured automatic qualification for the Champions League while their rivals were knocked down in to the Europa League following Chelsea’s triumph over Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Vermaelen points to Arsenal’s team spirit on and off the pitch as the main reason behind their recovery from a poor start to the season to finishing above their north London rivals.
“If the chemistry is right off the pitch then I think you see that on it too,” the centre back said. “It is really important that you have a happy dressing room and that the players are always happy to come to the Club and get along with each other.
"It means you will work hard for your team-mate because you get along with each other.
“I know the Dutch like to be straight with each other and tell people what they think and that is important.
“If you can tell your team-mate what is going wrong and they accept it, that means something is going well in the team. If he can't accept it then that is not good. To say what you think to other players is really important.”