Arsenal's Per Mertesacker thankful for send-off in final home game
Per Mertesacker thanked Arsene Wenger for giving him "a great ending" to his Arsenal career after he came on as a substitute in his final home game.
Mertesacker was given a standing ovation and a huge roar from the crowd as he entered the pitch in the 77th minute of the 5-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.
He will retire at the end of the season and, like Wenger, was given a send-off by the crowd in his farewell to the Emirates.
"It was a beautiful moment," Mertesacker told Arsenal's website. "It is difficult to sum it up now. It was brilliant, how the team performed and the manager letting me on for the last time. I was pretty much focused and concentrated on the game. Afterwards it was very emotional. To get such an exit from the club, I'm very grateful for this opportunity. The boss brought me here, this club trusted me. It's very humbling and I feel very grateful.
"The good thing was we were 5-0 up, so I could really take that warm welcome and the emotions to enter the pitch for the last time."
Mertesacker has been rarely used by Wenger this season, starting just four league games, but remains a very popular figure among fans -- especially after his performance in last season's FA Cup final win over Chelsea after returning from a long-term knee injury.
He will take over as head of the club's academy this summer.
"It's magnificent the way I was welcomed from the first day, and for the great finish as a football player," Mertesacker said. "That's brilliant and it speaks of this classy club by giving me the opportunity to get such a great ending."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.