Mikel Arteta revealed on Friday that “role model” Mauricio Pochettino advised him not to go into coaching as he prepares his Arsenal side to take on Chelsea.
The two men played together at Paris-Saint Germain more than two decades ago, in the early stages of Arteta’s career.
But they will be in opposite dugouts at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with Arsenal pushing for top spot in the Premier League table while Chelsea seeks to continue its recent revival.
Arteta spoke warmly about his Argentine rival at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“It was my first professional opportunity in Paris and we arrived together at the same time,” said the Spaniard, who was on loan at the club from Barcelona. “We lived together in a hotel for three months.
“He was critical. He’s been one of the most influential people in my football career, first of all as a player. He took me under his arm.
“He looked after me like a little child, like a little brother, and he was a big part of the success I had in Paris because he really looked after me, gave me a lot of confidence and advice.
“He has been a role model for me since that day, not only when I was a player but as a manager as well because I had to make a decision to leave playing and start my coaching career.
“He had a big say in that and I will always be grateful for what he has done for me.”
But Arteta, 41, also revealed that Pochettino, who has previously managed Tottenham and PSG, told him not to go into coaching.
Arteta, smiling, said the Argentine, who is 10 years older than him, told him: “’Don’t go into coaching. It’s too hard’.”
“I knew he was going to be a coach,” he added. “I followed him very closely. As a player he was already a leader, the way he understood the game, he was phenomenal. I used to have him in my back and he was constantly coaching me.”