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That in this way the body helps the soul find peace. But nobody scrutinizes that. He was out with his torn meniscus for seven weeks, once again recovering in Donaustauf. It's in the rehab clinic that he met his wife, Ulrike Stange. Mertesacker says he has profited enormously from the relationship.
She's a former member of Germany's national handball team, knows the pressure, the expectations and what it's like to lie awake for long periods at night. He says he could never fall asleep before 5 a. Today, his wife still has an unspoken understanding when he has to spend three days sick in bed, as he did in January of , because he was exhausted once again. And he was just waiting for that feeling to go away.
Which feeling? After he switched from Hannover 96 to Bremen in , there was a psychologist in the dressing room for the first time. He was just introduced: If you've got anything, you can talk to him whenever you need to. He didn't take advantage of the offer. He shrugs his shoulders. That competitive sports maybe isn't right for you.
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On the pitch, he says, they are one team, but ultimately they are all solitary fighters, some more and some less sensitive. But that's it. Nobody lets down their guard and says how they really feel.
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It wasn't until he was at Arsenal that he allowed himself to speak to a psychologist. He had been described to him as a performance coach who would make his task as a central defender clearer to him.
He says that gave him "more self-confidence. He says the psychologist never asked him what the stress was doing to him or how he felt in certain situations. The suicide of Robert Enke in plainly demonstrated how much weakness and sickness is being swept under the rug in football. When he talks about his friend Enke, who played keeper for Hannover 96, tears well up in Mertesacker's eyes. That says something, doesn't it? Photos of Enke's memorial service show a crying Mertesacker. Especially because one week later, everything was like it was before. So why did he keep playing?
The euphoria you feel after a win can't be compared to anything else, he says. The positive feedback from coaches. The love of the game. Being part of a team. The people, especially the children, who idolize you. The new challenges that, he says, often brought new motivations, and ultimately, the offer from Arsenal London, the world-famous club for which he had always wanted to play. Of course, the money was also always an argument, "a ton of money," as he says.
I know what I did for it, what the burden did to me. I chose this, nobody forced me to do it. Mertesacker sees the people he knew before he became the football star as his true friends. Former schoolmates, guys with whom he played at Hannover 96 as a teenager. Those who didn't continue because they couldn't handle the pressure. Once a year, he takes a vacation with them, sometimes to go fishing in Canada, but often just to go hiking in the Harz Mountains in central Germany, where his grandmother and grandfather used to live. Then they sit in some mountain hut, sing and eat schnitzel.
And play football on the cinder pitch. He draws energy from them. There, and of course with his family, his wife and his kids, "who, when I come home at night, aren't interested in how I played.
Pay to Play Part II (Sex, Money, Drama & Football) Guess What Happens Next?...
They're just happy that I'm home. Both of his sons, Paul, 6, and Oscar, 3, are among the main reasons he is ending his career. The doctors are also telling him to stop. His right knee is busted, with cartilage damage. The crucial factor, though, is that he's tired and just "doesn't want to do it anymore," he says.
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Mertesacker will be playing his final game in May. After a three-month break, he will be taking over the Arsenal's Academy this summer, which trains future talent for the team.
He has big plans. We are responsible for the boys who come to us. They cannot bet everything on the football card and neglect school. He also wants to open the boys' eyes.
That the things players post on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are only tiny excerpts of reality. That the big headphones and dark sunglasses aren't so much cool accessories as protection from the outside world. Many hours have gone by the time Mertesacker closes his notebook. He leans back in his chair, stretches his long legs. He says he didn't know what he was getting into when he became a professional player. By Antje Windmann Antje Windmann. Action Press. It was only after the Football Association was ordered by Uefa to lift its restrictions on the playing rights of women that the game re-emerged, and it was another 12 years before the WFA was affiliated to the FA, in Now there are more than 5, Another change she has overseen is the introduction of maternity rights, following a campaign led by Chelsea and England midfielder Katie Chapman , who spent time out of the game after having children.
Simmons is particularly pleased that all but one of the current England squad are professional, and Claire Rafferty has an outside job only by choice: she works in the City, where she earns far more money than she can make through football.
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They are entirely different. When I arrive, she is sitting next to another Arsenal player, Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne, who is working on her laptop. Soon they are joined by a third player, Scottish international Emma Mitchell. They all look smart in their crested tracksuit, and it seems incongruous for them to be at this remote out-of-town shopping mall in the middle of the afternoon. If young Alex needed a new pair of boots, her mother put in the over-time to make sure she got them. She signed for Arsenal at the age of eight. It gave me the out from east London, a focus, going up to train twice a week.
The club gave her something else equally important. My dad had moved away and Vic Akers , who was the manager, took me under his wing and became a father figure. I had my security in the football club. What did she do for money?
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We were scrubbers! What did they earn? And with the jobs in the laundry, we could get by. This was the era when Arsenal reigned supreme.