Arsenal

Hector Bellerin has grown into Arsenal's true leader and natural captain

Joshua Wroath
Bellerín led Arsenal to victory against Chelsea on Boxing Day
Bellerín led Arsenal to victory against Chelsea on Boxing Day / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
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When Unai Emery infamously allowed the Arsenal players to vote for their captain in September 2019, Swiss international Granit Xhaka was chosen.

We all remember how that ended.

What's forgotten, though, is the other names put forward. Current skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was next in line, and third was Hector Bellerin - now Arsenal's second longest-serving player behind Mesut Ozil.

Bellerín has seen many changes at Arsenal
Bellerín has seen many changes at Arsenal / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bellerin left Barcelona's youth team to join Arsenal at the age of 16 in summer 2011. He made his senior debut for the Gunners in a League Cup match in September 2013, replacing his now manager Mikel Arteta.

Since breaking into the first time in 2014, the Spaniard has been Arsenal's first-choice right-back, with no one coming close to pushing him out.

And what's impressive about Bellerin though is not just his longevity as a Gunner, but his true understanding and values of the club and what it means to lead.

In April 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, there was uproar about Premier League players wages and their appeared lack of understanding towards helping the NHS' fight against the virus.

The #PlayersTogether campaign was then launched, designed to donate money to NHS charities, was launched. Liverpool's Jordan Henderson, Manchester United's Harry Maguire, Watford's Troy Deeney and West Ham's Mark Noble all tweeted out a statement on 8 April outlining the player's commitment to helping the NHS.

Strikingly, it wasn't Arsenal's captain Aubameyang who represented the club in setting up #PlayersTogether, but Bellerin. All the other teams were represented by their captains.

Bellerin was also influential in helping his manager during the Arsenal wage dispute that started back in April.

Arteta was placed in a tough spot between the players and board, tasked with coming to an arrangement to introduce wage cuts during Covid-19. It was the teams PFA representative Bellerín who helped smooth out the negotiations for his manager, with the players eventually agreeing to take a 12.5% cut.

This season Bellerin was been given the vice-captaincy officially. Arteta has shown that with this appointment, he believes when Aubameyang is not available, Bellerin is the man to lead the Gunners not just off the pitch but on it.

Arsenal's leadership has been under scrutiny ever since the day Patrick Vieira departed. Questions are constantly raised about the lack of players who understand the club, where it should be and what it means to wear the badge.

Bellerin understands all of this and believes he has what it takes to be captain.

“People may not see me as this massive guy who shouts on the pitch all the time or what people may have as a captain in their heads, but there are so many different ways of leading a team,” the 25-year-old told the Arsenal website.

The cockney-accented right-back has grown up quickly in north London and fully understands what it means to wear the Arsenal shirt. When called upon, Bellerin has shown himself to be more than capable of leading Arsenal on and off the field.

Captaining the Gunners to victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day, the Spanish international showed real grit and desire to lead. In time, he has to be given the captain's armband.

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