The emergence of Hector Bellerin over the last 12 months has been absolutely phenomenal, but the young Spaniard insists it would have been easy to fail at certain pivotal moments.
The Barcelona academy product has battled hard to retain the right-back spot since Mathieu Debuchy’s return, but claims he could have been destroyed by Arsene Wenger’s decision to take him off at half time during our clash against Stoke.
Bellerin had a few questionable performances when he first broke into the team last season, with games against Borussia Dortmund and Stoke particularly poor – not that he was the only player below par at the time.
He was given the run around against the Potters, and whether Wenger was looking for a different option down the right, or was hoping to protect the young full-back, he was withdrawn after 45 minutes.
Bellerin claims it would have been easy for him to let that decision destroy him, but he’s proud of the way he reacted and kicked on.
“I learnt so many things about myself,” he told Arsenal Player.
“I learnt how to deal with pressure. That was one of the biggest things.
“When you get thrown into such big games at such a young age, it’s difficult to deal with.
“I think the biggest thing was probably after being defeated by Stoke away and being substituted after 45 minutes, it would have been easier to be destroyed by the situation.
“For me it was just something where the boss thought it was a better option to have another player in my position, I didn’t need to worry about it but just keep training hard and then show him in the next game that I can do better than how I did.
“That’s what I learnt about myself – that I could deal with those situations and I think that’s important if you want to be a professional footballer.
“I don’t think I could have been in a better group to have my breakthrough season. I had experienced players that helped me in every situation, then I had young players and I think we gave the team that fresh air.”
Bellerin has been absolutely superb since breaking through, and looks capable of being our right-back for years to come. He has forced Mathieu Debuchy out of the side, and we look a far better team with the pace of the 20-year-old.
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He clearly has the mental strength required to succeed as well, which is just as important if you want to succeed in the Premier League.