Per Mertesacker has become a cult hero at Arsenal and is determined to give the fans he has such an affinity with a trophy to celebrate this weekend.
Few could have foreseen the giant centre-back becoming such a popular figure when he arrived during a flurry of late transfer activity in August 2011.
While the likes of Park Chu-young and Andre Santos flopped, Mertesacker recovered from a difficult first season in north London to establish himself as a key member of the side.
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That defensive quality alongside his manner has seen the 29-year-old embraced by Gunners fans, whose chants of 'Big F****** German' will no doubt echo around Wembley when Arsenal take on Hull in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
"I was frightened at the start because the 'F' word, you cant say that on tele or somewhere else," he said of the chant that is done to the tune of The Sandpipers' Guantanamera.
"It was always a bit weird. A German journalist told me 'they quite like you'. My first impression on that was not good but finally I got it."
FA Cup final 2014: 10 talking points for Arsenal v Hull
FA Cup final 2014: 10 talking points for Arsenal v Hull
1/9 Arsene Wenger’s job depends on it
Secure a top four finish and win the FA Cup for the first time in nine years would be a good (and more importantly improved) return for Arsene Wenger. See your Premier League title challenge fade away and lose to Hull in the final sounds like a catastrophic collapse, and with Wenger yet to sign a new contract beyond this season, he would find it hard to justify to himself that he is still taking this team forward.
2/9 This trophy drought is starting to mount up
Nine years is a long time for a club like Arsenal to go without any trophy success whatsoever, but 10 years sounds a whole lot worse. Having shown glimpses this season that they can compete with the biggest teams in England, Arsenal will be determined to back that up with a trophy of their own. And after all, Manchester City won the FA Cup before going on to win the Premier League the following year.
3/9 Arsenal don’t enjoy trips to new Wembley
Arsenal’s record at the redeveloped Wembley Stadium makes grim reading. Having progressed to the 2007 League Cup final, they lost 2-1 to London rivals Chelsea, and lost by the same score in the 2011 League Cup final - this–time to soon-to-be-relegated Birmingham City. Chelsea also knocked them out of the 2009 FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. Last month’s FA Cup semi-final against Hull nearly ended the same way when the Latics took the lead through a Jordi Gomez penalty in the second half, but Per Mertesacker salvaged a draw and the Gunners managed to edge past the defending champions via a penalty shootout.
4/9 Ramsey is back – and picked up where he left off
When Aaron Ramsey struck his sweetly timed volley into the back of the net in the 2-0 victory over Norwich last weekend, it was as if he had never been a way. The problem for Arsenal is that he has been away, and for quite some time too. The midfielder was one of the players of the season up until he injured his thigh on Boxing Day last year, going on to miss over three months of action as Arsenal saw their Premier League and Champions League campaigns collapse. Thankfully for them, he looks just as sharp ahead of the Cup final.
5/9 Last chance for Wilshere and Ozil to impress before World Cup
Two players who are in danger of being left out of their respective nations starting XI’s when the World Cup gets underway. Wilshere’s quest to partner Steven Gerrard in England’s midfield was hit when he suffered a fractured foot in the international friendly against Denmark in March. The 22-year-old returned for the match against Norwich last weekend, albeit from the bench, while Özil has seen compatriots Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos impress back in Germany this season.
6/9 Hull could join the plucky underdogs club
Wigan were given no chance against Manchester City last season, but Ben Watson’s name will go down in FA Cup folklore as the moment that the plucky Latics masterminded the downfall of the Middle East. Alright, maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as bringing down an entire region, but the result was a huge shock nonetheless, and a Hull victory on Saturday would be as equally as stunning.
7/9 History doesn’t favour an English manager
The last English manager to win the FA Cup wasn’t actually that long ago, with Harry Redknapp leading his Portsmouth side to glory in the 2008 Cup final. However, over the past 20 years, only one other English manager has lifted the famous trophy, as Everton defeated Manchester United in 1995 to give Joe Royle and his side a famous Wembley victory.
8/9 One club is going to have a quiet Sunday
Both clubs have announced plans for a Sunday celebratory bus parade should they win the Cup, with pictures emerging on social media this week that Arsenal have already painted their bus with the wording “2014 FA Cup Champions” across it as well as putting up signs in the Islington area warning of a possible ‘delay’. Hull will also soak up the adulation of their fans, with a route planned that incorporates everything from the KC Stadium to the city centre. But one set of fans will wake up on Sunday knowing that there will be no parade, celebrations or fanfare. And to make it worse, you can guarantee the winners’ parade will be on TV.
9/9 Hull fans are dreading extra-time and penalties
As if the nerves of an extra half-hour of football and a dreaded penalty shootout weren’t bad enough, Hull fans face the prospect of missing the final train back to the north of England if they hang around celebrating too long. With normal time and post-match celebrations set to take proceedings at Wembley well beyond 7pm, Tigers’ fans will need to get a shift on to get back to Kings Cross station to catch their transport home. But extra-time and penalties would see the match run on for at least another 40 minutes, meaning the race would be on to catch the final train departing at 9.35pm. Otherwise it’s a going to be a long old night.
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Mertesacker has now embraced the nickname - so much so that he is using it for good, selling BFG T-shirts to raise money for his charity, which supports socially disadvantaged children in Hannover by encouraging them to take up sport.
"It worked really well, we just keep on going with that to try to raise some money for my foundation," he said of the Per-Mertesacker-Stiftung.
"It is a good thing together with my chant. Credit to the fans."
That support helped Mertesacker overcome his difficult start to life in England and still gees him on now.
Speaking of the fans, the German, in his understated way said "it looks like we like each other" and wants to reward them at Wembley this weekend.
"It would mean a lot, that would be a big step for our team as well," he said. "We went through a lot of difficulties.
"We were top of the league, then we dropped points and then came back to fourth position. We want to keep our run now.
"We won five consecutive games, we want to continue with that (on) Saturday. That is really important. It looks like we are back on track. We have to keep our focus."
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Mertesacker will be cheered on at Wembley by friends and family, including brother Timo who bears a striking resemblance to the defender and has a penchant for going on Arsenal away trips.
"He does it just to improve his English and get on with away fans," he said. "It's a good experience to get.
"He just loves it and, when he has time, he comes over just for away games."