Per Mertesacker breaks silence on Arsenal playing days

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The World Cup-winning defender headed into retirement at the end of the 2017-18 campaign having barely figured during Arsene Wenger’s farewell

Per Mertesacker has spoken of his relief at having avoided playing time during his final season with Arsenal.

The World Cup-winning defender called time on a 15-year playing career at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

At 33 years old, the former Germany international decided to hang up his boots and move into a role as academy manager within Arsenal’s youth set-up.

He made just 12 appearances during what proved to be a farewell tour for both himself and Arsene Wenger at Emirates Stadium.

Mertesacker claims to have felt “happy” at being sidelined for long periods, telling BBC Sport: “Especially in my last year, I felt something and felt the pressure and it was very awkward sometimes.

“I was happy about not necessarily playing, just training was enough for me.”

Mertesacker has spoken in the past of his struggles with the stresses of professional football.

He admitted in March to having felt sick at times, such was the pressure he placed on himself.

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