Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi has claimed to participate in karate as a youngster has helped to improve his football skills.
The 20-year-old’s father is a karate instructor and in a recent interview, the midfielder revealed the skills he learnt from the sport have given him a ‘warrior-like mentality’ on the pitch.
Guendouzi is not afraid of mixing it with some of the toughest players in the league and has already earned three Premier League yellow cards this campaign, on top of the 12 he received in all competitions last year.
It’s not just giving away fouls were Guendouzi shows his tough side, he is also a hard and robust tackler, who often puts his body on the line for the team.
Many of these skills, the Frenchman claims, he learnt as a youngster through karate.
“I think it really helped me in terms of my mentality, being a fighter on the pitch, and always wanting to win and get stuck into duels in a bid to really help the team,” Guendouzi told Arsenal’s official website.
“Karate has helped me a lot in that regard. When I was young, I came third in a karate competition in France, which was great, but it was difficult to combine football and karate.
“I certainly have very fond memories from doing karate. In terms of flexibility. I’d say I’m more flexible on the pitch which is a great help.
“As for my fitness, karate is very intense, so I think that’s why I’m able to make such a big effort and have that warrior-like mentality,” he added.
Guendouzi has been given plenty of opportunities to show his battling qualities this year and the youngster has not missed a single Premier League game throughout the campaign.
The former Lorient man has established himself as manager Unai Emery’s number one choice in the centre of the park, over more established players such as Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.
Guendouzi’s impressive performances this season mean he has earned a second successive call up to the French national side. He was a late addition to Didier Deschamps’ latest squad and was included in the roster after Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi was forced to withdraw with a rib injury.