Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, faces the biggest game of his coaching career on Wednesday when his team goes head-to-head with Manchester City. Arteta was born and raised in San Sebastián, a town in the northern tip of Spain where football is an obsession. He started playing football at a young age and was part of the Antiguoko KE team that won everything in the mid-1990s. Arteta left for Barcelona’s La Masia academy at 15, where he played alongside future stars such as Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. He later played for Paris St-Germain, Rangers, and Everton before retiring and becoming a coach.
San Sebastián is known for its production line of footballers and managers, with five Basque managers currently working at the very top. Three of them started at the same boys’ team, at local club Antiguoko KE, where Arteta played alongside Xabi Alonso and Andoni Iraola. Arteta’s former coach, Roberto Montiel, remembers a game where a 12-year-old Arteta played against Sociedad’s Under-12s and ran past six of their players.
Arteta’s career has been a long one, 35 years in the making, that has tested him at every stage. However, his old teacher, Mrs Perez, remembers him as a happy little boy who was very good at football and even better at table tennis. Arteta’s journey from San Sebastián to becoming a successful coach in the Premier League has been shaped by his competitive nature, his ability to integrate, and his confidence.
Keywords: Mikel Arteta, Arsenal, San Sebastián, football, La Masia, Basque managers, Antiguoko KE, Xabi Alonso, Andoni Iraola, Roberto Montiel, Premier League.
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