Jermaine Pennant: I didn't handle the pressure at Arsenal

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Former Arsenal and Liverpool midfielder Jermaine Pennant is dreaming of getting back to playing in the Premier League, and claims he's learned from the mistakes made earlier in his career which have helped shape him into the person he is today.

The 32-year-old winger burst onto the professional football scene as a teenager when the Gunners paid his boyhood club Notts County around £2 million to take him to north London.

However, Pennant says he was unable to handle the pressure that came with representing such an illustrious club, and blames his poor attitude during the formative stage of his development as the reason why he failed to make the grade under Arsene Wenger.

The Arsenal reject signed a short-term contract with Championship outfit Wigan Athletic in February this year, but was unable to prevent the Latics from suffering relegation to the third tier.

In the 13 appearances he made though, Pennant has definitely got the buzz that comes with playing football in England back following a brief stint abroad in India.

“It’s great to be playing back in England,” reflected Pennant in an interview with the Daily Mirror. “It’s true what people say about not realising how much you love something until it’s gone.

“When I went to India, I was so much more mature. I wasn’t just playing for myself and the team, I was playing for my family and that responsibility has made me a much better person.

“I’ve had to deal with pressure from the age of 15 and sometimes I didn’t react in the right way but now it is such a great feeling to use my experience in a positive way."

Pennant has certainly enjoyed an eventful career after becoming the first Premier League star to play with an electronic tag following a drink driving conviction back in 2005. He also featured for Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final and took in a spell in La Liga with Real Zaragoza between 2009 and 2010.

He returned to England after joining Stoke City - initially on loan - and enjoyed over three years at the Britannia Stadium in total before eventually being released in January last year.

“Before I left Stoke, I enjoyed spending time with the [Potters'] under-21s, telling them about the pitfalls in football," he explained. “When I look back, people like Liam Brady [ex-Arsenal academy director] were so good for me, he believed in me and understood the difficult background I’d come from.

"Now, if someone believes in me I will walk through brick walls because I know how easy it is to pre-judge people.

“After I left Stoke last January, I quickly realised that it wasn’t my football ability that was in question but my character.

“I just can’t understand where that’s come from, and I hope that my time at Wigan has shown that I’m just a normal lad whose made some ‘off-field’ mistakes.

“It’s ironic really that I am now the best footballer and person I have possibly ever been. I enjoy every minute of every day as a footballer now, whereas before I might have taken things for granted.

"It would be amazing to play in the Premier League as the person I am now, it would be great to share some good moments with my family.”

Does Jermaine Pennant still have what it takes to perform in the Premier League? Which club would be suitable for him to play at next season? Share your thoughts below...

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