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“It’s hard to say why I left’ – Alexander Hleb makes shocking Arsenal transfer confession in revealing interview – Latest Arsenal News
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“It’s hard to say why I left’ – Alexander Hleb makes shocking Arsenal transfer confession in revealing interview

Eleven years have slipped by since Arsenal last embarked on a 10-match winning streak, but beyond the string of Ws, there is little that looks the same.

Eleven years on from what ended up being a 12-game winning streak, Hleb – now 37, but still curiously ageless in appearance – is back in London with Bate Borisov to take on Chelsea, and Fabregas, in the Europa League on Thursday night.

It is Hleb’s fifth spell with the club from Belarus, underlining how much his career has stalled since leaving Arsenal for Barcelona a decade ago.

As it turned out, Arsenal was as good as it got for Hleb, who sat down with The Telegraph to reflect on a career that has taken in the “dream” of three years in north London, falling out with Pep Guardiola and living with Thierry Henry in Barcelona.

“Arsenal was fantastic, the greatest time of my life,” he says. “I love the club, the coaches, my friends. Unbelievable. Everything was a dream. It’s difficult to say why I left.”
Hleb won the treble in his first season at Guardiola’s Barca, but he was a peripheral figure and pinpoints leaving Arsenal as the turning point in his career.

“Have I fulfilled my potential? No, I made a lot of mistakes,” he says. “That’s why I am not 100 per cent happy with my career. Going to Barca was a tough call, but after that everything was a mistake. I lost my best years.”

Hleb was loaned to former club Stuttgart in 2009, and since then has been loaned or transferred 11 times, taking in spells at Birmingham City and in Turkey and Russia.

Reflecting on his Arsenal days, Hleb shakes his head wistfully, as if recalling a former lover he never quite got over.

“I enjoyed my life, woke up with a smile, went to training and loved it,” he says. “Cesc, [Mathieu] Flamini, [Tomas] Rosicky and Robin [van Persie] were my best friends. We were like brothers. We enjoyed each other’s company and knew automatically where each other would be on the pitch.”

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