Mikel Arteta paid tribute to Josep Guardiola ahead of the FA Cup fourth round match.
The Arsenal manager worked under Guardiola at Manchester City before taking over at the Emirates in December 2019 and is now in the midst of a Premier League title race with his former manager.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Friday’s game between the Gunners and City and the Etihad Stadium, Arteta said he was inspired by Guardiola and compared his influence on football to that of Johan Cruyff.
“I feel grateful, first of all, for the fact that he inspired me as a player, and he inspired me and gave me an opportunity as a coach,” said the Spaniard.
“I probably wouldn’t have had the career that I had as a player, the understanding of the game or the goals that I had as a player, if he wasn’t at Barcelona at the time.
“And I wouldn’t be sitting here and not having that readiness and that love for training if we hadn’t crossed paths in my life and he wouldn’t have given the opportunity he gave me. That’s all.”
90- @EddieNketiah9 second @Arsenal the player to score the 90th-minute winning goal against Manchester United in the Premier League after Thierry Henry in January 2007. Fourteen. pic.twitter.com/CorwCmg7ed
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 22, 2023
Arteta spent three years as a player on Barcelona’s C and B teams before leaving for Rangers in 2002, while Guardiola was part of the Blaugrana first team at the same time.
“I looked at him and just wanted to do what he did,” Arteta explained. “And I liked the way he played, how he broadcast on the field and how he understood what was happening on the field. It’s been an inspiration since I was 18.”
Guardiola helped turn Barça into a dominant force as head coach before successful spells at Bayern Munich and City, and Arteta said he learned a lot from working closely with him.
“I think the impact that Pep has had on football over the last 20 years is just incredibly powerful,” he said. “He changed the game, as Johan has done in the past… we were inspired by a lot of what he did.
“Everyone has to build their own career and their own path. A career not for six months, not for a year, not for two years. Let’s see and let everyone develop as they should.”