By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Hector Ballerina has revealed that he was clueless at defending until he was given a Steve Bould masterclass.
The Arsenal right-back has paid tribute to the influence of Arsene Wenger’s No2 for teaching him the art of defending.
Bellerin was a winger when he joined the Arsenal academy at the age of 16 from Barcelona and has admitted he knew little about stopping the opposition play.
Former Arsenal centre-back Bould was the club’s youth-team manager before being promoted two years ago to assist Wenger in the senior team.
“When I first came to Arsenal, I didn’t know how to defend,” Bellerin told The Sun. “If there was a person who I had to identify as helping me a lot, that would have to be Steve Bould.
“I was a winger but from the under-18s up, I remember him just showing me the basics. Even then, I remember him sometimes holding his head like, ‘What is Hector doing?’
“He’s been one of the key people in my career. He’s one of the reasons I’m here now.”
Bellerin has made smooth progress since being fast-tracked into the Arsenal team a year ago after Mathieu Debuchy suffered a serious shoulder injury.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has cemented his place as the Gunners’ first-choice right-back ahead of the 30-year-old Frenchman, who could quit the club in January.
Bellerin’s first major honour was the second of Arsenal’s back-to-back FA Cup titles last May, when they thrashed Aston Villa at Wembley.
“When we defended the FA Cup, I reminded Steve of all those times stressing in training, or when we lost the Youth Cup, which was such a big thing for us,” added Bellerin. “Steve was a top defender himself and has so much knowledge.
“Sometimes when he’s speaking, I just laugh because he makes it look so easy and so obvious, and you haven’t realised before. I really enjoy learning with him.”