Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has revealed how he made it big in world football, even as he took up the sport only as a hobby, when he was a child.
The German defender won the World Cup in 2014 with his national team, his biggest achievement so far and has won the FA Cup with Arsenal last season. The partnership of Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny saw his league club through 17 clean sheets last season, as the duo were instrumental in Arsenal finishing the season with 79 points.
Mertesacker told the official Arsenal website, that he did not have any expectations from football when he started off, but as luck would have it, a few players sustained injuries and he got an opportunity to play in the first team.
The former Werder Bremen man joined the Gunners in 2011 and after a disappointing start to his career in England, he managed to find his feet with the Gunners.
"I was not the big talent, so I kept football as a hobby. The motivation was always to be fit and involved in a team, and not more - not to be a professional one day, not to be that keen on doing well every day," the website quoted him as saying.
"It was more fun for me, and that was good for me. It kept me grounded and very quiet.
"I took it as a hobby but I kept the belief inside me subconsciously and that was the key. No one went crazy when there was a defeat, no one went crazy when they said maybe I wasn't good enough and went to the second team.
"That was very good for me. I stayed quiet and waited for the right moment, when I was 17 or 18. It's all about opportunities and a bit of luck. It went so well for me.
"I needed a few injuries to some senior players to get to my first pre-season in the first team, and then some game time that was broadcast on television. I did well then," he concluded.