Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta lifts the lid on why he felt so guilty over parents' divorce

Mikel Arteta, wearing a black, buttoned shirt, speaking into an orange microphone for a video
Mikel Arteta spoke about his parents' divorce in a candid interview -Credit:BBC Sport

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed he felt guilty and responsible for his parents' divorce during his playing days.

Arteta's mother, Llle-Heilen, and father, Kalju Aru, separated shortly after he turned 24. The news hit Arteta hard, and in an attempt to mend his family's rift, he made the decision to join Real Sociedad in 2004.

Before his return to his homeland, Arteta was enjoying a successful spell at Rangers where he helped himself to 13 goals and three assists in 60 games, becoming a huge fan favourite in the process. The Gunners' boss admitted he felt compelled to return to Spain to bring his parents back together.

His efforts, however, were in vain as the family remained apart. Nearly two decades on, the emotional weight of that period still lingers for Arteta.

In a heartfelt interview with BBC Sport, he shared: "I felt so guilty. I didn't know if that was because of me and trying to pursue my dream.

"I feel very responsible for that. I never felt that it was the right call [to move back to Spain], but I had a duty and I wanted to reconnect my parents and my family again. It was a disaster. It never worked in that sense. I never felt connected in any moment."

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Arteta's stint with Real Sociedad was short-lived, lasting just six months before he returned to the UK to join Everton on deadline day in January 2005. His short-term loan deal would become permanent the following summer, as Everton paid £2m to secure Arteta's services permanently.

Reflecting on his move to Everton, Arteta said: "Straight away, you connect with the team; you connect with the players; you connect with the staff; you connect with the supporters and it flows. And that feeling is needed.

"You feel confident, you feel excited every morning to get off your bed and go to training. I loved every minute."

In what could be seen as a twist of fate, Arteta now faces a crucial match against Everton as Arsenal's manager. A win for the Gunners and a favourable result from West Ham against Manchester City will see Arsenal clinch the Premier League title.

Last season, Arteta was tantalisingly close to ending Arsenal's long wait for a Premier League crown but ultimately saw an eight-point lead evaporate, as Pep Guardiola's side caught up to win their third consecutive Premier League title.