Thanks in part to the man he has called a father, Hector Bellerin’s recall to the Spain squad is deserved recognition of his return to form
When Mikel Arteta arrived at Arsenal midway through last season, Bellerin was rehabilitating a hamstring injury he suffered as he returned from an ACL tear. It was the latest in a long line of fitness issues that had hindered his best form for several years.
The right-back had struggled prior to Arteta’s arrival. He had also fallen out with supporters, was reported to be leaving the club, and had dropped out of the Spain reckoning. One year later, all burned bridges have been reinstated.
This week, Bellerin was called-up to the latest Spain squad. The 25-year-old has replaced the injured Sevilla star, Jesus Navas, and such international recognition shows what a turnaround the past few months have been for Bellerin.
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The full-back last played for his country in 2016. His reinstatement is a testament to his perseverance, resilience, and quality, as well as the impact of his new manager, someone who Bellerin knows and trusts innately.
“Mikel and his wife adopted me when I arrived,” he said in 2016 when the pair were teammates, not player and manager. “I was just a kid and he was like a father to me. He was fundamental to my integration at Arsenal. I’m very close to him.”
Arteta has been a steadfast supporter of Bellerin. In 2014, when Bellerin first broke into the team, the then Arsenal midfielder was championing the young star.
“I think he’s a top player,” said Arteta. “He’s going to be the right-back of Arsenal for many years, in my opinion – providing he continues to progress in the way he has been doing.”
Bellerin failed to reach the consistent heights Arteta expected due to unrelenting injuries, but this term, he has rediscovered his very best form.