Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker could have supported Manchester United as a youngster. His brother was a fan. The Germany international, however, chose to follow the Gunners, and is glad that he did.
Mertesacker is fast establishing himself as one of the most important and well regarded players at the Emirates Stadium, having initially endured something of an inconsistent patch when he first transferred to the Premier League.
So commanding have his performances been this season, during which Arsenal have climbed to the top of the table, Arsene Wenger has already outlined his intention to offer a new contract to the 29-year-old. Mertesacker sees this as a 'reward' for his good work.
Joining Arsenal from Werder Bremen in 2011 was an ambition realised for the player after he had grown up following the club, and taking inspiration from the likes of Tony Adams.
He could, however, have followed a different path and nailed his flag to Old Trafford mast along with his Manchester United supporting brother. But, as Mertesacker explains, he is Arsenal through and through.
"I grabbed the Arsenal shirt and my brother grabbed the Manchester United shirt. There was always a rivalry between ManU and Arsenal and always big rivalry between us as brothers," he told The Telegraph.
"I actually have two shirts, the JVC one, home and away. There are pictures of me playing in the shirt, aged 10 or 12. I liked Tony Adams. But it was hard for me to chose one role model.
"It made me feel good just ‘being Arsenal’. I’ve always wanted to be in touch with Arsenal, have a little relationship between us. It was a big thing when Arsenal first called me. I said to myself: ‘I have to go. I have the shirt’.’’
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