Arsene Wenger back in dugout for ex-Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker’s tearful farewell match

Arsenal fans were treated to a double blast from the past this weekend as Per Mertesacker played a farewell match in his hometown of Hannover with Arsene Wenger in the dugout for one of the teams.

The former Gunners captain played a half each on Saturday for Merte’s 96 Friends, a team of players with Hannover connections, and Per’s World XI, which was “managed” by Wenger.

The game at the HDI-Arena was an absolute goalfest with stars such as Ivan Klasnic, Arne Friedrich, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Max Kruse and Claudio Pizarro helping the World XI to a 10-9 victory.

Mertesacker, now managing Arsenal’s academy, also got on the scoresheet for the winning side when he dinked over the head of goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler (whose commitment to claiming the ball was questionable, to say the least) and tapped into the unguarded net.

There were emotional scenes near the end when the 6-foot-6 “BFG” was substituted for his own father and proceeded to make a tearful lap of honour to a warm ovation from the 40,000-strong crowd.

“Dear fans, what a send-off,” the 2010 World Cup winner said on the pitch after the game. “I couldn’t have dreamed of playing in front of such an amazing crowd again here in Hannover.

“Thank you very, very much. It means the world to me that I am able to say goodbye here.”

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