'I’m not just saying this' - Martin Odegaard explains why he really did always love Arsenal and almost joined as youngster
- Odegaard played as Arsenal on FIFA
- Loved the Invincibles
- Almost joined as teen before moving to Madrid
WHAT HAPPENED? Odegaard joined Arsenal in 2021 after failing to make much of an impact at Real Madrid but has gone on to captain the Gunners under Mikel Arteta. The Norway international has told the Players' Tribune that he's always had a soft spot for the north London side because of the exciting attacking players who shone for the club while he was growing up.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I’ve never been that much into video games. I am of that generation that always played outside, but the one exception was FIFA. I mostly played Career Mode. You know, where you get to be the manager? The club I always chose to manage was Arsenal," he explained. "They were my FIFA team. Growing up in Norway, I watched a lot of Premier League and I just had this good feeling about Arsenal. I’d seen clips of Thierry Henry and the Invincibles. I knew the club had a history of developing playmakers like Fabregas, Nasri, Ozil - really smart, technical players, who were good on the ball and played the difficult passes. My kind of players."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Odegaard went on to insist his love for the club is genuine and recounted how he came close to signing for the Gunners before he signed for Real Madrid after meeting former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
"I’m not just saying this … I was actually close to choosing Arsenal," he recalled. "When we went there, I got to train at London Colney. I met Arsene Wenger. He took me and Dad out for dinner. That was cool, but strange too. It’s Arsene Wenger, you know? He’s this legend I grew up watching on TV, and now I’m sitting across from him eating steak. I was so nervous I was just sitting there thinking, Is he analysing me right now? Is he going to judge me if I eat the fries? Maybe I should just leave them. Hahaha! So, why Real Madrid then? I talked about it a lot with my dad and the rest of my family. In the end, Madrid is Madrid. They were the Champions League holders with the best players in the world."
IN TWO PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? The Gunners host Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday, with Odegaard sure to be a key component of their play.