Per Mertesacker is under contract at Arsenal FC since 2011. He talked with us about his social engagement, football abroad and his German teammates.
German Football Ambassador: In the last years, German football has gained a lot of reputation and went through a few changes. There also has been an increasing number of players acting abroad. How is your point of view on this situation?
Per Mertesacker: This development should be seen as a compliment for German football and should make us proud. If we think back 10 years to the European championship in Portugal, we were talking about a heavy crisis. The fact that we learned from that and made the right changes, especially in our youth department development, is why we are now were we are.
German Football Ambassador: Since 2011 you are now a „German Football Ambassador“. How is your perception of that role?
PM:I have tried to adapt me as fast and open as possible to the English everyday life. At the beginning it was a bit difficult, but I tried to make all my interviews in English. Today this is no problem anymore. I feel entirely settled.
German Football Ambassador: Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry are playing for Arsenal too. How are the fans feelings about the German „Quattro“?
PM: There are no especial feelings about us Germans. For the Fans we are simply arsenal players. Of course the constitution of a team depends on the trainer’s preferences. In our case it seems that Arsene Wenger appreciates German football.
German Football Ambassador: How do you think of the actual discussion about increasing salaries and transfer costs? – is a foundation a way to give something back to society? What does responsibility mean to you, also thinking about your foundation (www.per-mertesacker-stiftung.de/en)?
PM: With my foundation I want to be a role model and also motivate young people to build their way into life with the help of sports. That is how we help socially disadvantaged kids. Especially children with an immigrant background are in our center of attention.
German Football Ambassador: The aid from your foundation mostly focuses on children and adolescents in the region of Hannover. Is this noticed in England? Do you also support projects in England?
PM: My foundation’s work focuses strongly on Hannover. This fact allows me, on my home visits, to have an eye on our projects and even take part in an active way. In England, we players engage us for the Arsenal Foundation. This is a charity organization of the club, which deserves all the support.
German Football Ambassador: You are very active in social-media and you often include public-spirited and social topics in your communication, how is the perception of your fans towards this?
PM: It is important to me to mention topics besides sport. I enjoy the discussion here with my friends and family. Not everything of it has to instantly find itself on the internet. But selectively I do comment things online, and when I do, I just try to be the individual Per Mertesacker.
German Football Ambassador: The initiative „German Football Ambassador“ recognizes German players for their sportive and social engagement in the abroad. Do you think this is something worth to be supported?
PM: The examples of this year´s nominees show how precious this engagement is. I truly admire the dedication and the idealism of the nominees for their passion, football. If, at the same time, something positive comes out of your passion, then this is something absolutely worth supporting.
German Football Ambassador: We asked Torsten Frings who he would choose as the „German Football Ambassador“, and he spontaneously said “Per”. How is your relationship today? Are you still in touch?
PM: Torsten and I know each other for many years from our time at Werder Bremen and the DFB. Sadly I couldn´t make it to his farewell game in September 2013. The english match-fixtures didn‘t let that happen.
German Football Ambassador: You live in London, one of the most multi-cultural cities in Europe – How English is life still there? Which are the differences between your German and your English everyday life?
PM: London truly is a melting pot of cultures. I enjoy the diversity and I always try to make use of what the city has to offer. What both countries definitely have in common, is their passion for football.
German Football Ambassador: At the beginning of March this year, you extended your contract with Arsenal until 2017. Can you imagine yourself playing in the Bundesliga again?
PM: The football-business is enormously fast-living. To tell what is going to happen in 2017 would be presumptuous. I´m just trying to keep me fit and to keep delivering good performances for Arsenal.
Thank you for your attention!