Granit Xhaka is having one of his most successful seasons at Arsenal as Mikel Arteta has instilled faith and belief back into the player. However, Xhaka came extremely close to leaving the club after a very public falling out with the fans in 2019. He reveals how he turned it all around.
Arsenal captain at the time, Xhaka was booed off the field by the supporters as he removed his jersey and threw it off dramatically. He was stripped of his captaincy and was about to leave the club.
Reflecting on his infamous blast at Arsenal supporters and how he worked his way back into favour, Xhaka has told BBC Sport: “Of course after that I had one option, which was to leave because it was too much for me. People that were there supporting me for the first three years, today or tomorrow they were not with you. How I dealt with that? In the moment I was so strong. I don’t want to go back and feel the same pain I had. But I was very strong.”
“I was very, very close [to leaving]. When I say that, it was like I only had to take my stuff and leave the door. Mikel was the guy who stopped me leaving. I had a good conversation with him, I had never met him before. I told him from the first meeting we had ‘I want to leave’. It was not against him, but the story that happened here, I can’t play again with that shirt.”
Xhaka, with three goals to his name this season, added on his remarkable turnaround in north London: “I knew myself, and with Mikel and his team, that I can turn things around. I prepared myself for that. I’m not here because my dad is a coach and he is picking his son all the time, I think I have the quality to be a good player for this football club. I want to give something back. Football is not all about going up, you have to fall down sometimes.”
Xhaka has been enjoying life as he has helped Arsenal reach the top of the league and continues an outstanding run of form.