After experiencing a completely different start to the season compared to his first campaign with us, Ben White revealed that he feels the past 12 months have seen his growth – both personally and professionally.
The defender has started every league game this season and helped us top the Premier League after the first six games, a far cry from that time last season where we lost our first three games and Ben endured the brunt of a lot of criticism.
Having overcome that, he is well placed to balance the differences between the two early in the season, both individually and as a team.
Thinking about how much he’s grown over the past year, Ben said: “A lot as a person; I think more as a person than a player. When you come to a big club like this, there’s a lot to think of.
“As a player, I’m becoming more confident and showing the confidence you gave me, and trying to deliver the level the coach wants every week is something I’m looking forward to.
“This season has been very different. There is a lot of teamwork, the way we train is completely different. What we do off the field, the attitude and the spirit we all share are completely different.
“For me personally, it was a tough start when I first joined. I played in the Brentford match and it wasn’t a good match. I was getting beaten up by everyone in the media and it’s nonsense to hear that.
“I don’t have social media or anything like that, so I don’t actually see any of it but you get told about it and send it in. It’s one of those things; everyone has their own opinion. Some listen to it and some don’t.”
An opinion appreciated by the defender is Mikel Arteta, who brought him to the Emirates Stadium last summer from Brighton & Hove Albion, and Ben is grateful for the support he gave him during those difficult days in his football career.
“Bring him here to me showed the belief that he was with me,” he said. “I’m not really someone to be told when I’m doing something rubbish, or told when I’m doing a good job – I kind of know. But it was nice to have the coach and the staff always by my side last season when things were not going well.
“It’s sexy [working under Arteta]. I think you interfered with training and you don’t know what’s going to happen, which is a nice thing. It breaks your week. Coming every day, you don’t know if you’re going to have a meeting or not, or what kind of thing he’s going to do at the meeting. Then when you get out, you have no idea what’s coming.”
Ben laughs when asked if he seeks his parents’ opinion: “My dad definitely doesn’t watch [football]. He has always been supportive of me, taking me everywhere but he has never seen me, and my mother is exactly the same.
“They were always there to support – they’re not those dads or dads who would tell me what I’m doing wrong or anything like that, they have no clue! I remember walking off the training ground and asking my mum how I was doing – she always said I was good! “
Despite being only 24 years old, Ben has achieved the feat of playing in all four divisions of the Football League, as well as collecting international titles. He feels that looking at the experiences he has collected from all levels of the game allows him to better assess his growth both on and off the field over the past year.
“I think some of the reasons I’m here are from the different experiences and playing styles that I’ve had to adapt to throughout my career,” he added. “I think it has helped me tremendously in playing in completely different situations, and I think that has definitely helped me in what I am doing now.
“Even the second-league teams that you played for and in the first league, you took things from there. It’s a completely different environment and you are in situations that are not the standards of the Premier League. Every coach has different things to offer.”
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