In the pre-match press conference prior to Villarreal’s Europa Leg first-leg victory against Arsenal, former Gunners boss Unai Emery was asked about a particular interaction he had with Mikel Arteta…
During Arteta’s pre-match press duties, the Spaniard revealed that Emery actually called him up before he became his successor at the Emirates, with a journalist then wishing to find out what was said.
Emery reiterated that it was a ‘private conversation’ but offered some insight into what the pair spoke about, adding that he spoke about the ‘positive’ experience he had when he ‘lived’ in London.
Emery, who was sacked after 16 months in charge of the Gunners, added that he told Arteta what he ‘lived through’, just as ‘two working colleagues’ would.
It was also reiterated that the pair ‘knew’ each other well before, with Emery stating that the pair were ‘practically neighbours’, having both been born and raised in San Sebastian (Donostia).
Unai Emery was asked about the phone call he had with Mikel Arteta before the Gunners legend replaced him as Arsenal boss, here’s his classy response… pic.twitter.com/ivRUYeXeit
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) May 5, 2021
“Well, it was a private conversation, it’s okay if the fact there was a phone call between me and him is public…”
“We spoke a little about where I lived in Arsenal, in a positive way, as I experienced. I just told him about what I have lived through – as two working colleagues.”
“Of course, Arteta, I knew him before. He’s from Donosti (Basque for San Sebastian), just like me, we were practically neighbours, so I had a lot of admiration for him as a footballer.”
“The admiration I have for him now, as a manager and coach, working with Guardiola and working with Arsenal. Since I left Arsenal, I like to see what new coaches – that come to teams I’ve been with – bring.”
“What they bring to footballers you have worked with etc. So, I usually watch Arsenal games, from a positive perspective.”
“About Arteta, it’s more or less the same. I just wanted to tell him about my experience there, where I lived when I was there, I thought that could be positive for him as well.”
“Maybe I told him a thing or two about things that could be improved, in a very natural, footballistic and personal way. You know, all I feel for him is admiration.”
Emery showed his class by using this moment to share his ‘admiration’ for Arteta, both as a player and now manager/coach, whilst adding that he still ‘usually’ watches Arsenal matches.
Villarreal hold a 2-1 lead heading into the second-leg of the Europa League semi-final encounter, with this tie a real chance for Emery to prove himself – or rather remind – after a difficult spell in England.
Emery comes across as very respectful in his press conferences and interviews, this was a real class gesture, that must’ve been awfully difficult considering he’d just been sacked, but it goes to the show the kind of classy man that Unai is.