As you've probably already heard, I couldn't play in the Champions League because a virus confined me to bed. It had already been making the rounds in the family and I'd hoped to be spared, but at last it did get me. I didn't feel well and had to throw up, so it was the right decision to sit out the Olympiacos game. With things like that, rest and sleep are best. I slept for what felt like 15 hours to get back in shape completely and I feel a lot better.
And missing a game isn't a problem because we've got a large and strong squad. It means the next guy steps up and will also deliver. So there's no need to worry - and the lads did win it comfortably yesterday. We are happy about those three points, particularly after having lost the game on Saturday. I couldn't play in that one, either, which was a bit sad. Although things had been going very well, the manager pointed out that we have at least three very good centre backs and that he would give each of them his playing time. That's when I knew I might be benched, as I had made the most appearances until then. And that's what happened.
The tought bit was that it was my birthday and my whole family had come to London for the occasion. On the other hand, it meant I could enjoy my birthday and wasn't knackered from the game. All in all it was a nice day with many gifts and many birthday wishes - also on Facebook, but I've already said thank-you for that. It's a good channel to stay in touch with fans, because we train pretty much shut off from the outside world in England, in marked contrast to what it's like in Germany.
Among the gifts were a few books that are supposed to help me become an even better dad. There are many books these days in which people relate anecdotes from the time when they were young fathers - "Superdaddy" and things like that. I was given books like that during my girl-friend's pregnancy and it seems to continue. I also got some garments, because I don't like shopping very much and I don't place a premium on clothes, yet I should run around well-dressed at least once in a while.
Alright, I'll work out a bit now - do some swimmig and cycling - and I'll surely take part in tomorrow's training session. Then we'll have to look how I feel and if I'm called up for the game on Saturday. Right now I'm pretty well and I think I could be an option. All I can do is prepare as well as possible and then hope for the best.
Keep your fingers crossed for me and the team!
All the best,
Since November 2006, Per Mertesacker supports people in need through his self-named foundation. The player uses this non-profit, charitable organisation to become particularly involved in two areas that are especially close to his heart.
First, the Per Mertesacker Foundation tries to make sure that seriously ill children will see their dearest wish fulfilled. The other area is mass sports, where the Per Mertesacker Foundation aids and assists a variety of projects. Since club-based sports play an important role in the education of children and the integration of young adults, the Foundation aims to lend a helping hand with a focus on football.
You can find out more about the Foundation's philosophy, about current activities or charity games and how you can lend support on the Foundation's official homepage.
|Date of birth||September 29, 1984|
|Place of birth||Hanover|
|Weight||90 k198 lbs|
|Marital status||Unmarried, in a relationship|
|Joined Arsenal||August 31, 2011|
|International debut||October 9, 2004|
Per Mertesacker was only nineteen when he was thrown in at the deep end: the defender born in Pattensen, a small town south of Hanover, made his Bundesliga debut on All Saints' Day 2003, but wasn't yet ready to become a regular in the first team under Hannover 96's coach Ralf Rangnick.
But Rangnick's successor Ewald Lienen put faith in "Merte" and the tall youngster quickly repaid it with excellent performances. Deliberate, focussed, clam and abolsutely fair - that's how Per Mertesacker went about his business on the pitch, remaining modest depite his rapid rise. "I'm a young player and know I still have to improve," he told reporters.
In the summer of 2006, Mertesdacker's career path led him to Bremen. He quickly became one of Werder's team leaders and played an important role in the successes the Green-and-Whites soon celebrated. In Per's first season, the club finished third, in the following year Werder were runners-up. Thanks to a string of impressive performances, Bremen reached the 2009 UEFA Cup final and won the German FA Cup in Berlin.
Due to an injury, Per couldn't play either game, nonetheless he exuberantly celebrated the Cup victory, his biggest success in club football so far, with his team-mates in the Olympic Stadium. After all, his utter commitment had been crucial along Werder's route to the two finals.
In the 2009-10 season, Bremen picked up where they'd left off. Werder again reached the domestic Cup final, though they were defeated by Bayern Munich. Bremen finished third in the Bundesliga so that Per and his team-mates qualified for the Champions League. However, the team wouldn't get past the group stage and this wasn't the only disappointment of the 2010-11 campaign, as the side even had to fear relegation for a time and Per himself was hampered by a couple of injuries. But ultimately Werder pulled themselves together and finished 13th.
A few weeks into the new season, 2011-12, Mertesacker moved not only to a new club but to a new country. The German signed a contract until 2015 with Arsenal, coached by Arsène Wenger. "I had a great time at Werder," Mertesacker said upon leaving for England, "and owe the club a lot."
"Moving to London means I can fulfill my wish to take the next step in my career," Per said when his transfer from Werder Bremen to Arsenal was finalised in the summer of 2011. "The Premier League has always been an enticing challenge for me." But Mertesacker didn't just move to a league he had fancied, he also moved to the club he had followed from a distance! As a teenager, Per often wore an Arsenal shirt he owned since paying a visit to his aunt, who lives in England. "I've come full circle, because I now play for a team I have always been crazy about," the German said shortly before his first working day in London.
Hard to believe, but true: the man who coached Arsenal when Per became a fan of the club is also the man who signed him! The Frenchman Arsène Wenger is in charge of the team since 1996, shortly before Per celebrated his 12th birthday, and has basically reinvented the club during this tenure. Although the Gunners are one of the most tradition-laden teams in England and dominated the game in the 1930s, they had been overshadowed by Liverpool and then Manchester United in the previos decades. And if they celebrated a triumph during this era, opposing fans derided them as "boring, boring Arsenal", accusing the club of defensive football and opportunistic 1-0 wins.
All this changed when Wenger arrived. He signed young, technically strong players, often for much less money than competing clubs spent, and thoroughly overhauled Arsenal's style. Soon the team were famous for their fast one-touch passing game and breath-takingly attacking football. Arsenal collected three league championships and four FA Cup wins under their French coach, only the Champions League title has proved elsuive so far, as the Gunners were a bit unlucky to lose the 2006 final against Barcelona.
Per Mertesacker didn't have too many Bundesliga games under his belt when he caught the eye of Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann. He first wore the shirt with the German FA's eagle crest on October 9, 2004, when Germany played a friendly against Iran in Teheran.
He did well on his debut and so he was picked more and more often to play for his country, as his consistently good performances endeared him to the coach. Following the 2005 Confederations Cup, he was not only a fan favourite but a national team regular.
The first great highlight of his national team career was the summer of 2006, as Klinsmann selected Mertesacker, then playing for Hannover 96, to represent Germany during the World Cup on home soil. It was a dream come true for Per. The defender was a constant presence in the German backline during this celebrated tournament and played well as the team finished third and delighted the nation.
While the players were disappointed at not having reached the final, the World Cup was the experience of a lifetime, left a lasting impression and gave the young team valuable experience. They put it to good use, because Germany went one step further at the next major international tournament, reaching the final of Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria under new national coach Joachim Löw. However, winning the first title with the national team remained a dream for Per, as Spain narrowly won the game.
The next international highlight for Mertesacker was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Again he played in central defence and again he justified the selection of the coach, as a team in which Per was now one of the leaders, appearing in every game, played exciting football and was only stopped in the semis, again by Spain. But the Germans once more won the third-place playoff, against Uruguay, and thus finished the World Cup on a high note.
Three times in a row Per performed splendidly during a major tournament, three times in a row the team made it far - but three times it wasn't enough to win the trophy. This, Germans hope, will finally change at Euro 2012. Germany's qualification campaign has raised hopes, after all. The team set a record by becoming the first Germany XI to win ten qualifying games on the trot! Per was almost always part of the side that made history.
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