Former Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed his grandmother’s opinion prevented him from joining Bayern Munich as a youngster.
Mertesacker attracted interest from Bayern, Hamburg and Werder Bremen in the summer of 2006 after a string of impressive performances at centre-back for Hannover in the Bundesliga.
The giant German, who is now the manager of Arsenal’s academy, eventually opted for Bremen – where he spent five seasons – before joining the Gunners in 2011.
Speaking to Bild, Mertesacker revealed it was a piece of advice from his grandmother that made him think twice about signing for Bayern.
“When I played for Hannover I had several offers, also – as I have been told – from Hamburg, Bremen and Bayern,” Mertesacker said, as relayed by Goal.
“Back then I already was a German international and Bayern would have loved to have the complete German national team.
But maybe I didn’t make the move because my granny said: ‘Bayern doesn’t work at all’.
“But Bremen with [Tim] Borowski, [Torsten] Frings, [Miroslav] Klose and [Frank] Baumann also had some German internationals, which was more attractive for me.
“I still lived at home with my parents at 20/21 so the family was still close and I preferred that. And back then Bremen had the reputation for helping young players make their next step!
“But maybe I didn’t make the move because my granny said: ‘Bayern doesn’t work at all’.
“She didn’t like Bayern and died before I made a move. I guess she would have turned in her grave and said: ‘Not with me!’”
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The 34-year-old made 215 appearances for Bremen and played regularly for the German national team before Arsenal acquired his services.
Following a long struggle with injuries, Mertesacker retired at the end of last season to take up his current role overseeing the Gunners’ academy.
He played 221 games for Arsenal and won three FA Cups with the club, but the highlight of his career was undoubtedly lifting the World Cup with Germany in 2014.