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Hector Bellerin has revealed “big brother” Mikel Arteta helped turn his Arsenal career around.

Bellerin admits that Arteta was a huge influence on him as a young player and then gave him the “great honour” of giving him the armband as vice-captain.

Gunners defender Bellerin, 25, opens up on his time at Arsenal and, in particular, his recovery from a year-long injury absence with a career-threatening knee injury during a new documentary Unseen Journey.

Bellerin could have easily left last summer when there is foreign interest in signing him but it is clear that Arsenal boss Arteta has a huge influence on his time at the club dating back from their time together as players.

Spain full back Bellerin said: “I’d only been at Arsenal for a couple of years, Mikel was one of the captains in the dressing room, he was part of this Spanish speaking group that we had and he really did look after me.

Bellerin has credited Arteta with turning his Arsenal career around
(Image: Getty Images)

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“When I was young, I was a bit naughty, started getting money, I started meeting girls, started going out, all these things that everyone does at that age.

“But not everyone has the responsibility that I had at that time, starting to play for Arsenal first team.

"He was like a big brother, when I did something wrong, he looked at me and I was like: ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have done that.’ Sometimes you need people to be honest with you.”

Bellerin has also been made captain on occasion when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been out and was a huge voice in the dressing room last year during Project Restart negotiations between PFA reps and the Premier League.

He said: “For me, it’s an absolute honour, I feel so lucky when I put this armband on. My way of leading is leading by example and being good to everyone around and make everyone feel part of our family.

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“For me, too, to be chosen as vice-captain is a great honour and it gives me goosebumps every time I get to wear the armband and every time I get to step out on the pitch and lead my team mates.”

Bellerin also gives a fascinating insight into his rehab after a serious knee injury after damaging cruciate ligaments in January 2019 and, by his own admission, he went off the rails before a club conditioning coach told him some home truths.

He added: “I spent too much time with my friends, going out, drinking because you can’t do this when you’re playing, you can’t do it during the week when you have two games in a week.

“I was not mentally in the best place. London has the good and the bad, depends on how you look at it, there’s always something to do, there’s always a new restaurant to go to, a new club you can to, always a party somewhere, always friends somewhere.

“At a time when I wasn’t competing, I wasn’t me because I didn’t have football, my life, I defaulted to those things – the going out, drinking, not taking care of myself as I should do.

“I remember one day, one of the conditioning coaches Barry, he’s a good friend of mine, he said to me: ‘Hector, I know what you’re doing, man. I know you tell me you go for a drink, only have one beer, but I know what you’re doing. This is not the way you’re going to get better.’

“You don’t always get that in football where there’s such a difference between staff and the players. He was honest with me, opened my eyes and since that day, I was like: ‘Hector, what the f*** are you going, get your s*** together.’

“There’s loads of ups and downs in this process. It took him to tell me to be the best I could be, you can do all the exercises, all the stuff, the tablets, but it’s also about the other 18 hours at the training ground.”