Per Mertesacker says he would rather avoid the 'burden' of playing for Arsenal again

WATFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14:  Per Mertesacker of Arsenal looks dejected in defence the Premier League match between Watford and Arsenal at Vicarage Road
Image: Per Mertesacker says professional football has been a mental and physical

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker says he would rather not play for Arsenal again because of the physical and mental "burden" professional football brings with it.

Mertesacker, 33, spoke candidly about the mental and physical struggles he has faced in his professional football career and said he would rather not have to play again before his retirement.

The World Cup winner is set to become Arsenal's new academy manager for the 2018/19 season.

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The Germany international says he wants to hang up his boots and 'feel free'.

"Everyone says I should enjoy the last year, to play as much as possible and take everything in, [but] I would rather sit on the bench or even better in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free," he told Spiegel.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: of Arsenal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal at City Ground on January 7, 2018 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Image: Mertesacker made his last Arsenal appearance in the FA Cup third-round loss to Nottingham Forest in January

"Some days you realise everything is a burden, both physically and mentally but you have to deliver without a doubt.

"The pressure is very intense. I always have this horror story in my head, to make a mistake and be responsible for a conceded goal. If the fans celebrate it is great, it is unbelievable. But if they are booing you, I always feel very ashamed.

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"In the moments before a game starts, my stomach turns around as if I had to vomit. Then I have to choke so violently until my eyes water."

The 33-year-old revealed the some of worst moments of his career came during the 2006 World Cup, when the centre-back was just 21.

Per Mertesacker and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal training
Image: Mertesacker will take over as Arsenal's academy manager when his playing contract expires this summer

Hosts Germany were knocked out at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Italy, but Mertesacker says the defeat, however disappointing at the time, actually gave him a sense of relief.

"Of course I was really disappointed when we lost against Italy in 2006. But most of all I was relieved," he continued.

"I remember it, as if it was yesterday. I thought it is over, it is over. Finally it is over."

The former Werder Bremen and Hannover defender says he had previously considered retirement after a series of injury setbacks in recent years.

"At times I really was done," he said. "My body was not ready for any more efforts. And if I couldn't play anymore, I was injured, it always was like that. I think, that a lot of returning injuries have psychologically reasons. That the body tries to give your soul some rest."

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