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How Arteta 'found his way' in completely different sport with legendary uncle


MIKEL ARTETA goes into Premier League title D-Day on a wave of optimism despite the odds being stacked against his Arsenal side.

Boss Arteta’s Gunners need to beat Everton on Sunday and hope West Ham deny Manchester City victory at the Etihad to emulate Arsene Wenger’s winners of 20 years ago.

Mikel Arteta has worked wonders at Arsenal since his appointment


Mikel Arteta has worked wonders at Arsenal since his appointmentCredit: Rex
He has been inspired by professional surfer Ibon Amatriain


He has been inspired by professional surfer Ibon AmatriainCredit: Getty

But Arteta is no stranger to facing his fears when his back is against the wall.

From the age of six, the Spaniard was thrown into the deep end — quite literally — learning to ride waves in his hometown of San Sebastian on La Concha beach alongside his surfing uncle Ibon Amatriain.

Amatriain, 55, is considered a minor celebrity back in Basque Country, hailed as one of the best big wave surfers in Europe for decades.

Nicknamed Sensei, he now passes on his knowledge to the next generation, including his three sons Ikre, Adur and Eki — as well as teaching yoga to the locals.

And it was during those fun-filled, yet formidable, beach days that Arteta, now 42, embraced fear head on.

Arteta explained: “Ibon was an inspiration for me, as an athlete, competitor, someone who connected me with nature and challenging fear when you are on those big waves.

“He used to take me when I was six, seven, eight years old, to face the difficulty with courage and find a way to survive.

“When you are under the water you have to find your own way to do it. It was so fulfilling.”


Yet it was not always plain sailing for ex-midfielder Arteta during his playing career, which started at the famed La Masia academy in Barcelona and ended at the Emirates in 2016.

After experiences at Paris Saint-Germain and Rangers, he decided to return to San Sebastian in the summer of 2004 with Real Sociedad in order to be closer to his family.

Eight times Arsenal and Tottenham’s North London rivalry got petty

Arteta recalled: “I get the news that my parents are getting divorced. I felt so guilty.

“I didn’t know if that was because of me and trying to pursue my dream. I felt responsible.

“But at Sociedad, it was a disaster. It never worked. I never felt connected. I felt  I had disappointed my family.”

Everton swooped in January 2005 in a career-defining switch before joining Arsenal on deadline day in August 2011.

Eight years later, having served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City during that time, he was hired as Gunners manager.

Arteta said: “It was very complicated at Arsenal, very divided.

“The energy was very difficult to manage, problems with the ownership, problems with the supporters.

“No real clear identity to build the club and how to play — but the issue was much deeper. The issue was in our roots. It was all a mess.

“After a lot of changes, I did a lot of research to understand what was happening.

“We needed to convince people we were willing to take this club to a very different place.”

In almost five years in charge, Arteta has transformed the Gunners into title challengers — one game away from ending two decades of title despair.

His accomplishments have been  recognised, receiving The Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic at the Spanish Embassy in London on Wednesday — a prestigious honour.

A Hollywood-style epic finale is needed to add another crown to his collection, much like the script of Arteta’s favourite film: Gladiator.

He said: “I’ve watched it many times. There are clips that are very significant.

“I feel very attached to it all — the soundtrack, the music. I feel very good watching it.”

Tactics Exposed: Why Kai Havertz is Arsenal’s most important player

By Dean Scoggins

KAI HAVERTZ endured a difficult start to life at the Emirates after his big-money move from Chelsea.

But has now well and truly found his feet.

The German, 24, has found his scoring boots in recent weeks, including his double against his old club.

But Havertz has been providing much more than goals in recent months.

In fact he has become Mikel Arteta’s most important player as Arsenal go for the title.

That’s after the Spanish boss made a genius tactical switch.

Read more on how Mikel Arteta is using Kai Havertz.

Or to watch the brilliant video in full on YouTube.

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