On April 13th, Granit Xhaka told The Player’s Tribune he came close to leaving Arsenal, months after clashing with his club’s supporters during their 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Emirates in October 2019.
Since that tie, the Gunners sacked Unai Emery and replaced him with Mikel Arteta. The latter’s arrival convinced the midfielder to continue at the north London club, where he has remained.
After The Player’s Tribune piece came out, the Switzerland international has impressed in Arsenal’s last two league wins over Chelsea and Manchester United. He even scored a stunner against the Red Devils as the Gunners sealed a 3-1 win at home last weekend.
“It was special. My whole family was in the stands, my father came from Switzerland to watch the match,” Xhaka told TV2.
“It’s always special when you score at home, but this was special because I had not scored in a long time for Arsenal. It was a key moment for me. I forgot everything there and then. I just wanted to enjoy it with my teammates, with the fans, with the people around. It was a good feeling.”
Xhaka received widespread praise from Arsenal supporters for his fine displays in the last two matches.
“It makes me proud. Everyone knows the misunderstanding with the fans three years ago. Many looked at me as away from the club already. Many wanted me to go. I’m still here, still the same player and person, but I’ve improved a lot since then. It shows me that I did a good job since I had a misunderstanding with the people,” he said.
TV2 quizzed the player about the reaction he expected and received after The Player’s Tribune piece was published earlier this month.
“I had it inside me for three years, but I never talked to anyone about it being so open until now. What I did was risky. We knew that before I did it. But this was what I wanted. I wanted to speak very openly and clearly, tell people how I felt and how I feel now,” he added.
“But the most important thing for me was how I felt after this interview. I felt very good, very proud of myself and that I talked about it. It’s not easy to talk about this story, but I did. I am very, very proud of myself and those I had around me.”
“What I want to say to the young players is that they must be ready for anything. They must be very, very strong mentally. That’s the key. Not just in football, but in a normal job in the future. When all goes well, you have a lot of people around you. When something goes wrong, like what happened like me, you can count on your fingers how many are left.”