The World Cup winner’s medal has weighed heavily on Per Mertesacker this season. He describes the comedown from Brazil 2014 as “a kind of trauma” and yet he has found a way to deal with it, to recover mental focus and physical freshness just in time: yoga.
Mertesacker’s form has picked up in the second half of the season and he will lead Arsenal out at Wembley on Saturday afternoon, hoping to win his second FA Cup in two years. The recovery of his fitness and performances he puts down to his weekly hour-long yoga sessions.
“Every week, I can’t miss it,” Mertesacker explained. “When you are superstitious – which most footballers are – you need to have your habits every week. The benefits are physical and mental, to strengthen my body, to stretch my body, and mentally to relax and calm down.”
Manager Arsène Wenger tried to help Mertesacker by pointing to the example of Patrick Vieira, who came back from winning the World Cup in 1998 and sustained his best form for Arsenal.
But through his own methods, Mertesacker found the way. “I tried to prepare even more – more yoga, more treatment, to come to a level where I can compete again. It took half a year.”
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