Hector Bellerin has revealed that being separated from his family during lockdown led to his request to leave Arsenal.
Bellerin brought his ten-year stay at the club to an end in the summer by asking for an exit, and after Arsenal had brought in Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna, the decision was made to send Bellerin on loan to Real Betis.
Speaking to Ian Wright on the Wrighty’s House podcast, Bellerin confessed that he finally realised he had grown homesick after being isolated from his Spanish roots during lockdown.
“Quarantine was a crazy moment in my life, because I went through all the stages I could have been in my life in the space of three months,” he explained. “I was really down for a long time, then I was really high for another time, I just had a lot of time to think and I figured out what I want for myself as a person. Not as a football player, as a person.
“Being closer to my family was one of them, being closer to my roots was another one. I never really missed Spain in the first eight or nine years, but in the last year I was missing it a lot. I was listening to Flamenco music all the time, I was watching Spanish movies all the time, I was eating Spanish food all the time. Honestly, I was craving it.”
Bellerin also thanked manager Mikel Arteta for being so understanding and moving quickly to sign Tomiyasu as his replacement.
“I spoke to Mikel way before my loan, and we had a good friendship as teammates and as a coach/player, and I said to him ‘At this time, at this moment in my life, I need something else. I don’t want to go anywhere for the money, I just want to be closer to my family, closer to my country’.
“I was lucky that Mikel is someone who is very understanding, and he knew it was nothing to do with football or the club or anything. It’s not that I don’t want to play here anymore, it’s just because this is not helping any of us.
“He knows everything I’ve gone through at Arsenal, with my injuries and everything. I was very lucky that I could be open with him and we could have a talk where he understood me fully.
“I always said to the club ‘If I leave this place, I don’t want to leave you guys without, for example, anyone in my position or in a position when you guys are not on the best terms. I want the best for all of us because I’ve been here for ten years and I love this place.”
Finally, he gave a tip of the cap to Arsenal and Tomiyasu for their impressive form this season.
“Arsenal are doing amazing and that makes me so happy,” he said. “The player they got in my position is doing great. There’s literally no hard feelings for me.
“It’s beautiful to see because I watch every single game and I want the guys to do well.”