Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta reveals how Spanish region’s incredible RESTAURANTS produced FOUR Prem managers this season
MIKEL ARTETA is leading the charge of football’s Boys from the Basque Stuff ahead of Saturday’s reunion with old pal Andoni Iraola at the Vitality Stadium.
The pair were born just a couple of months apart in 1982 and played for their local team Antiguoko — alongside ex-Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso.
And Arteta is convinced that there is something special about the northern Spanish region of San Sebastian which also produced Unai Emery, Julen Lopetegui, Pep Guardiola’s assistant Juanma Lillo and Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain.
He said: “It’s the food! We have the best food in the world in San Sebastian, the best restaurants per square metre and the most beautiful city.
“It has to be linked with that because the quality of life in our city is incredible — the education we get, the way we look after our city and the passion for football that you can breathe everywhere you go.
“On a weekend there are 300 kids playing on the beach.
“In the region you have Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Eibar. All those teams really take care of their academy players.
“They do great work to raise talent and it’s not a coincidence that a lot of players have come through from that area.
“Also, when you are raised in the Basque area, you have the attitude that nothing is good enough.
“You score a goal but you should have scored another. Our families are really, really demanding and you live with that from a young age.
“And 30 years later here’s Andoni and me together in the Premier League and I’m really happy for that.”
Arteta was snapped up by Barcelona before going on to Everton and Arsenal while Iraola remained in LaLiga, spending 12 years at Bilbao.
The Bournemouth boss is facing his schoolboy team-mate for the first time as a manager and admitted: “I never thought this would happen when we were players.
“It’s the first time we are going to face each other for how many years I don’t know but it will be very nice.
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“The other night I met Alex Neil after the Stoke game. It was something new to me because we don’t usually do this in LaLiga and I liked it. There was no beer or wine, there was something to eat but nothing fancy — but hopefully we will find a way to meet Mikel.”
This will be Arsenal’s first meeting with Bournemouth since their crazy 3-2 win at the Emirates back in March, when they were behind after just nine seconds but snatched all three points thanks to Reiss Nelson’s unforgettable 97th-minute winner.
Arteta added: “That was one of the maddest games I’ve been involved in, especially conceding so early.
“But the way we turned things around and what we lived together in the 97th minute made it a special day that we will remember for a long time.
“I’d prefer it if we can have a game very much more like the one we played at Bournemouth’s ground last season when we won 3-0.”
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