Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bared his soul after what he described as the most difficult season of his career.
Aubameyang, 31, was in reflective mood as he talked candidly about the heartache behind having to make a mercy dash to see his ill mother in France and the difficulties of being away from family during a pandemic.
Arsenal captain Aubameyang was also dropped for the North London derby after turning up late for a team meeting and how he contracted malaria and was laid low while on international duty with Gabon.
Aubameyang is known for being one of the biggest stars in the Premier League, Arsenal’s talisman and top scorer and he signed a mega new contract at the start of the season only for it to turn out differently to what anyone expected.
“It’s definitely been a bad year and next time we hope it’s going to be really good for us. We want to see people back at the stadium. I’m a player that likes these kind of emotions, when people are around the stadium,” said Aubameyang.
“When I had this issue with my mum, the club were really kind to me. They let me go to see here. It was a really nice thing from the club. But definitely yes, it’s been a difficult year. Especially for me because I am used to seeing my family quite often.
“When I am playing at home they come to the stadium quite often. She’s feeling so much better and she’s really very well. I wish for every player to be close to their family from next season.”
Aubameyang was also left furious at the time after being dropped by Mikel Arteta for the Tottenham game and that incident seemed to define his season.
“Of course I regret that,” he said. “It was a bad moment but my feeling after the game was just that we had won the derby and this is it. This is part of this season and now it’s gone. We just have to look forward and keep focussed for the rest of the season.
“But of course I regret some things this season. But I can’t do anything about the past. I am just looking forward to end the season well.”
Aubameyang also revealed just how difficult it was after contracting malaria as his performances dropped dramatically until it was diagnosed and even now he is still not 100 per cent fit.
He said: “I was feeling very, very bad. I think it was the worst moment of being sick in my life. For three days in a row and three nights it was non-stop and paracetomol and stuff had no effect.
“So I said to the doctor I have to go to the hospital because I was too incapacitated to do anything otherwise. I stayed in hospital for three days and I lost 4kg. So it was a really bad moment.
“After that I had some improvements and had good treatment and good doctors. You have to get the right treatment for malaria – if you don’t get that quickly you can have some big problems.”
If Arsenal thought they had a turbulent season then maybe it is nothing compared to the ups and downs of Aubameyang’s year. But he accepts that people look to him – and is determined to finish well.
He added: “Everybody knows I am the captain, so everybody looks to me. So as I said before I want to give a lot back as everybody is expecting a lot from me. This is my responsibility and I take that. I have to deal with it – that’s it.”