Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed his humble road to stardom, one which saw him fly under the radar for a considerable spell prior to making it in professional football, as reported by Arsenal.com.
He believes that it is that grounded beginning to his career that has allowed him to reach the top level of the game, something he has achieved.
Mertesacker famously won the World Cup in Brazil this summer with the German national side, showing his standing in world football.
He began his career after developing at Hannover 96, making his first team debut for the side at the age of 19.
Despite spending much of his time studying while he was first playing football, he believes he held a subconscious self belief that stood him in good stead when the opportunity to play in the first team arrived at his doorstep, after a series of injuries to his teammates at Hannover.
He said: “I was not the big talent, so I kept football as a hobby.
“The motivation was always to be fit and involved in a team, and not more – not to be a professional one day, not to be that keen on doing well every day.
“It was more fun for me, and that was good for me. It kept me grounded and very quiet.
“I took it as a hobby but I kept the belief inside me subconsciously and that was the key. No one went crazy when there was a defeat, no one went crazy when they said maybe I wasn’t good enough and went to the second team.
“That was very good for me. I stayed quiet and waited for the right moment, when I was 17 or 18.
“It’s all about opportunities and a bit of luck. It went so well for me.
“I needed a few injuries to some senior players to get to my first pre-season in the first team, and then some game time that was broadcasted on television. I did well then.
“You have to take that opportunity. It’s not only to get that, it’s to take it as well and perform solidly.
“That’s the key at that stage. I told myself it was now or never and I decided to take [the chance]. I could never predict that so many highlights would follow.”