Unai Emery is calling on his Arsenal side to summon up the spirit of tennis icon Rafael Nadal as they prepare to go in search of major silverware in the Europa League final.
The Gunners are set to face Premier League rivals Chelsea in a showpiece event on May 29.
A date in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku has sparked plenty of controversy, around tickets and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence, but a trophy and potential Champions League qualification is on the line.
Emery is hoping to see his team prevail, having previously claimed the Europa League crown on three previous occasions.
He is aware that fierce determination and belief will be required in order to get over the line, with fellow Spaniard and 17-time Grand Slam winner Nadal held up as a perfect role model for those seeking to bring tangible success back to north London.
“I read his book and I know some things about his history and he is work, work, work,” Emery told Arsenal Player of a countryman currently readying himself for a shot at a 12th French Open triumph.
“When he is also struggling sometimes in one match, playing for five hours in one game, tennis players have a lot of difficult moments.
“In the difficult moments you have to be strong in your mind to change the negative situation into a positive. Football is the same, only it’s in 90 minutes and you need your teammates because it is 11 players that are playing and you need one strong mentality, but each single player being together too.
“I saw him live in one match and I also like to play tennis too. When I am playing tennis, I am thinking in each moment during the match that I need to be very strong in my mind to battle my opposition player. If he’s better than me, with different strategies to play and fight against him too.
“Tennis is different from football because tennis is an individual game and an individual sport. Football is one team with 11 players and we need to do the combination and we need also where one player is not playing well another is playing well, the relation between them is very important.
“Tennis for me is a good sport because the mindset is very important. Because you need to be very strong in your mind and for the relationship with football I think it is the same. It’s the idea to transmit for the players, for each single player, to take this mindset to work strongly and to have a big individual mentality.
“After, if you can play with 11 players with a big mentality, for example like with Rafa Nadal, you can take the best performance and results for this sport.”
Arsenal need to emerge victorious against Chelsea in order to book a Champions League berth for 2019-20 after finishing their Premier League campaign in fifth spot.