Arsenal new boy Per Mertesacker has revealed that Gunners legend Tony Adams was one of his boyhood heroes.
Hopes are high at Emirates Stadium that the 6ft 6in German international can become the same sort of commanding presence in the heart of defence as Adams, who captained the North Londoners to four league title triumphs and is considered one of the club’s greatest ever players.
And Mertesacker himself has now admitted he looked to Adams for inspiration in his formative years as a budding young defender growing up in Germany.
"We didn't get many pictures on the television but Adams was a legend,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “He's a special one.
"I always looked to Arsenal and he was one of the great defenders when I was 10 or 12-years-old."
Mertesacker is yet to establish himself at the top level of club football after spells at hometown club Hannover and Werder Bremen.
But the 26-year-old believes his extensive international experience, which has seen him clock up 75 caps and play in the latter stages of two World Cups and a European Championships, will help him deal with the pressure of competing for major trophies with Arsenal.
“It is a little bit easier if you have played a World Cup for Germany and I hope I can use my experiences in my career,” he added.
“We met England and that is a great experience I have. But I also have to improve myself and that should be my first thought.
“It’s exciting to be here but I have a lot of experience in football so that is OK for me. I am very happy and I am very glad to be here.
“Arsenal is one of the top teams in Europe and I have been looking out for Arsenal since I got my first jersey when I was 10 or 12. Arsenal has always been special for me.”
By Liam Twomeycomments