Arsenal squad got 'locked in dressing room' by Mikel Arteta as they held private talks – Football News

Arsenal squad got 'locked in dressing room' by Mikel Arteta as they held private talks

Mikel Arteta showed his potential as a manager while still a player at Arsenal (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta boldly locked his Arsenal team-mates in the dressing room when he was still a player. The Spaniard showed decisive leadership by stepping up and holding crunch talks in private with the other Arsenal stars when things were going poorly – years before he went on to become the club’s manager.

Arteta signed for Arsenal on transfer deadline day back in the summer of 2011. The midfield veteran was brought in from Everton by Arsene Wenger to add experience to an otherwise young dressing room, which included Theo Walcott.

He hung up his boots in 2016 and, after an impactful career in north London, has since taken on the role of manager at the Emirates Stadium, leading the club to successive Premier League title challenges. Now former Arsenal forward Walcott has pinpointed the moment where Arteta first displayed his managerial potential.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott recalled the moment Arteta locked Arsenal players in the dressing room (Image: Up Front with Simon Jordan)

Walcott recalled a time when Arteta, on his own accord, locked the players in the dressing room in an attempt to hash things out and help them overcome their bad form. He claims it was a “turning point” in how the rest of the Gunners squad perceived him.

Talking on Up Front with Simon Jordan on William Hill’s podcast, the 35-year-old said: “The turning point I remember in my experience with Mikel was when he was a player. Hindsight’s a great thing but the turning point for me was when we weren’t making the top four at the time.

“We had training in 30 minutes. Mikel literally locked the dressing room – players only. It’s like he was saying ‘I’m taking control of this whole space. I’m going to say it how it is. It’s an open room if anyone else wants to speak’.

“It will always stick with me, it was like he was the manager there in that moment. I was thinking ‘This guy could be a manager – I’d love to play for this guy’.

Arsene Wenger was

Arsene Wenger was “afraid” of Arteta (Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“We made top four that year and it was that one particular speech. Arsene was outside waiting for us to train and we weren’t out there because Mikel stopped training. That’s how strong of a character he was. Even Arsene was afraid of him.”

Walcott added: “He was sick of peace and quiet and being too nice. He wanted people to say truths in a safe environment. It worked.”

Arsenal remained in the top four until the season after Arteta hung up his boots at the Emirates. They would not play Champions League football until 2023, when he had returned as a manager.

The former Everton captain was immediately appointed by Pep Guardiola as his assistant once he retired, quickly rising through the ranks of Manchester City’s coaching staff. He took on the Arsenal role – his first managerial job – when the club was at its most dire state mid-way through the Unai Emery-led 2019/2020 season.