Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner once claimed he predicted Mikel Arteta was always destined for a career in management — and now he has the proof to back up his prophecy.
The Spaniard, who won two FA Cups during his time with the north London outfit before retiring in 2016, played alongside Bendtner while Arsene Wenger was in charge.
Arteta got his first job in coaching as Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City in July 2016 and played a key role in their Premier League title triumph in 2017/18 with a record haul of 100 points.
He was then appointed as Arsenal boss in December 2019 after succeeding Unai Emery, returning to the club where he spent five years as a player and three as captain.
Former Denmark international Bendtner, who spent nine years at Arsenal before departing for Wolfsburg in 2014, recently claimed in an interview with Arsenal’s official website that he “always knew” his former team-mate would go on to have a career in the dugout.
And now, an extract from his autobiography, 'Both Sides', appears to confirm Bendtner's prediction that he was one of the first to identify Arteta’s attributes.
“In midfield, Spaniard Mikel Arteta is leading the charge,” it reads.
“He’s been at the club since 2011. What he lacks in terms of stature, he makes up for with his piercing, almost scowling gaze and an iron will almost unlike anything I’ve encountered before — making him near impossible to get around.
“Like Wenger, Arteta is a true club man right down to the soles of his feet. He wants to do everything to carry his team forward, and you can see it off the pitch too."
Several Arsenal players have spoken of the positive environment that Arteta has created, with academy players Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah becoming valued members of the first team under Arteta.
However, it hasn’t been all rosy for the Gunners boss, with the club enduring their worst start to a Premier League season in the current campaign and it appears that winning the Europa League is to be their best chance of securing European football next season.
Arteta also infamously fell out with playmaker Mesut Ozil and midfielder Matteo Guendouzi last season, with the pair departing for Fenerbahce and Hertha Berlin respectively.
But Bendtner insists that San Sebastian-born coach is a consummate professional and understands that footballers all have different personalities, describing his former colleague as “a leader by nature”.
He added: “Even though he’s deeply serious and professional, he doesn’t create a bad atmosphere or give anyone a bad conscience just because their heads are screwed on differently. No way.
“He’s helpful, a leader by nature and you can tell he’s headed straight into coaching as soon as his body gives up the ghost.
“I don’t think I’ve met many teammates with greater managerial potential than Arteta.”
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