Granit Xhaka spoke to the Players Tribune about his decision to leave Arsenal, and about the fans who were constantly talking ugly about him. "The suitcases were packed, the passport was ready. I was done with Arsenal. It was over.
There was a second club contract on the table, I just needed to sign it. I talked to my wife, Leonita, and we decided to leave. I was planning. just to say goodbye to Mikel Arteta, and then get on a plane. It was in December 2019.
Two months earlier, you know what happened. Maybe you were even there. So much has been said about it, so I finally want to make things clear. First, I want to let everyone know that I love Arsenal.It's always been like that.
I'll do my best for this club until I leave it. I also know that some people don't like me, and that is a part of football that I understand ", points out Xhaka.
It all started in a game against Crystal Palace "But that day against Crystal Palace the line was crossed.
We had 2: 0, they tied at 2: 2, and I was taken out of the game after about an hour. I could hardly walk when I heard the booing. It wasn't a few guys in the corner, already a lot of people. I was shocked. I've never experienced anything like that in my life.
When I got to the tunnel, I looked at the faces of the fans sitting nearby - and it's a moment I'll always remember. When I close my eyes now , I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. It wasn't like they didn't like me.
No, it was different. It's hatred, pure hatred. I'm not really exaggerating. You see, I've never had a problem with criticism "Was Xhaka s**t today? Okay, no problem. But to be booed by your fans? As a captain? It's different.
It's about respect. That word has always had weight for me, even when I was a kid. It's something I got from my mother, respect for my parents, the club, your teammates, the fans. That day, I felt great disrespect. The comments crossed the line.
Yes, I was captain of Arsenal. But I am also a human being. And as a human being, hurt, I reacted. I answered them, I grabbed my ear, and when I left the field, I threw my jersey on the ground and went down the tunnel. "
He explained his action.
"Was I wrong to do that? I did. But would I have done anything different to have the same thing happen tomorrow? Honestly, I don't know. I have to be honest about it. I'm very emotional. Feel that level of hatred and disrespect.
, even today, when we lose, I don't like to walk those last few meters to the tunnel, because I still recognize faces. The same people are sitting there. That's why I just put my head down. I went through that nightmare once and I don't want to more to do. "