Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has explained how spending two years on loan at Roma has significantly improved him as a player after ‘standing still’ in five years at the Emirates Stadium.
The Poland international was Gunners number one since midway through the 2010/11 season, but failed to live up to the potential seen in him as a youngster coming through the club’s academy.
However, Szczesny now feels he’s become a better and more mature player since spending two seasons on loan at Roma, where he has benefited from working under different coaches and a different kind of training.
It remains to be seen if the 27-year-old will get the chance to fight for the Arsenal number one spot again after this season, but he’s hinted that he wants to keep on progressing after failing to do so at his parent club.
‘The one thing I want to do is make sure I don’t stay still,’ he told the Guardian.
‘I was quite still for five years – sometimes I played better, sometimes worse, sometimes phenomenal, sometimes rubbish. You take steps forwards and backwards. It is not very good for your head if you go up and down and up and down. I want to try to keep going up, with my quality and with my decisions that I make.
‘I am 27, the best I have ever been, I still have room to improve and I want to make sure that room doesn’t stay empty. I want to go into that room. It feels like a big moment.
‘The season before I left I had a very bad season – performances, injuries, off field – it was terrible.
‘I could have stayed in an environment that was going negatively for me. Instead the opportunity that came gave me a fresh start. You get a new perspective. You get new coaches and influences. You learn new drills. You do new things. Now I am very happy that it happened, even if the first impression was that I might be out of Arsenal, which was very painful. Now I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
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‘The biggest thing I have taken away from these two years at Roma is the fact I grew as a goalkeeper. It’s just raising your levels, your standards. I absorbed a bigger knowledge of football, the tactical side of the game. You don’t see me with that rush of blood that I used to have as a younger keeper. It’s not that I don’t feel that rush of blood but tactically you are more aware of when to be involved, when to let the defenders recover.’