When Unai Emery sadly allowed Arsenal players to vote for their captain in September 2019, Switzerland international Granit Xhaka was chosen.
We all remember how it ended.
What is forgotten, however, are the other names proposed. Current skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was next, and third was Hector Bellerin – now Arsenal’s second-oldest player behind Mesut Ozil.
Bellerin left the Barcelona youth squad to join Arsenal at the age of 16 in the summer of 2011. He made his senior debut for the Gunners in a League Cup game in September 2013, replacing his now manager Mikel Arteta.
Since entering the scene for the first time in 2014, the Spaniard has been Arsenal’s first choice right-back, no one comes close to repelling him.
And what’s impressive about Bellerin is not just his longevity as a gunner, but his true understanding and values of the club and what it means to lead.
In April 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, there was an outcry over Premier League player salaries and their lack of understanding to help the NHS fight the virus.
The #PlayersTogether campaign was then launched, designed to donate money to NHS charities, was launched. Jordan Henderson of Liverpool, Harry Maguire of Manchester United, Troy Deeney of Watford and Mark Noble of West Ham all tweeted a statement on April 8 highlighting the player’s commitment to helping the NHS.
Strikingly, it wasn’t Arsenal captain Aubameyang who represented the club in setting up #PlayersTogether, but Bellerin. All the other teams were represented by their captains.
Bellerin was also influential in helping his manager during the Arsenal salary dispute that began in April.
Arteta has been placed in a difficult situation between the players and the board, tasked with reaching an arrangement to introduce pay cuts during Covid-19. It was the PFA Bellerín team representative who helped smooth the negotiations for his manager, with the players eventually agreeing to take a 12.5% cut.
This season, Bellerin was officially named vice-captain. Arteta has shown that with this appointment he believes that when Aubameyang is unavailable Bellerin is the man to lead the Gunners not only off the pitch but on him.
Arsenal’s leadership has come under scrutiny since the day Patrick Vieira left. Questions are constantly being raised about the lack of players who understand the club, where it should be and what it means to wear the badge.
Bellerin understands all of this and believes he has what it takes to be a captain.
“People might not see me as that huge guy who screams all the time on the pitch or what people can have in their heads as a captain, but there are so many different ways of leading a team” , said the 25-year-old. the Arsenal website.
The cockney-accented right-back has grown up quickly in North London and understands perfectly what it means to wear the Arsenal shirt. When asked, Bellerin has shown himself more than capable of leading Arsenal on and off the pitch.
Captain of the Gunners to victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day, the Spain international has shown courage and will to lead. In time, you have to give him the captain’s armband.