Per Mertesacker says they was often only four players who would turn up to Arsenal’s yoga sessions during his playing days.
In an excerpt from his autobiography, ‘Weltmeister ohne Talent‘, written with Rafa Honigstein, the centre-half credits his fitness to the introduction of yoga and openness to new things.
Mertesacker, who will be a coach in the Arsenal academy from next season, says there was often only three other players who took up the option of using Arsenal’s organised yoga sessions.
‘I invested a lot in my fitness,’ he says, in an excerpt from The Guardian. ‘My personal network [of therapists] cost me 10% of my net salary, several hundreds of thousands of euros. But it was absolutely the right decision and it paid off as after two seasons I extended my contract by a further three years.
‘I wouldn’t have been able to play for a top club for seven years in the Premier League without these additional therapies.
‘My experience has taught me that you simply cannot do enough. For example, I was a big fan of yoga from the beginning because I had seen that it improved stability and flexibility.
‘Even at the age of 33 I was one of the most flexible at Arsenal when it came to my back muscles. Hardly anyone came to the yoga sessions that the club offered. Often there were only four of us: Héctor Bellerín, Nacho Monreal and Tomas Rosicky.
‘The youth players who were promoted to the first team smiled at these exercises. They thought we were meditating. They were happy with the ball at their feet but for everything else there was a lack of desire. “I play football and go to training. That’s enough.”
‘But no, it isn’t enough when you want to maintain a certain level for a long time or want to improve.’