Former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela said he had ‘three bad years’ in England – and couldn’t wait to leave the Gunners.
Mexico international Vela joined Arsenal as a teenager in 2005 but spent most of his football education on loan at various Spanish sides.
He had two seasons with the Gunners, scoring 11 goals in 64 appearances, before a miserable loan spell at West Brom, where he netted just two league goals in eight games.
It was only when he joined Real Sociedad on loan in 2011 that Vela started to kick on, and after making the move permanent a year later he forged a successful career at San Sebastian, scoring 73 goals in 250 appearances.
Vela, who currently plays for Los Angeles FC in the MLS, has now lifted the lid on the relief he felt when he finally secured a deal to leave Arsenal.
He said he was desperate to leave that he jumped at the chance – even though he knew nothing about the Basque Country where Sociedad are based.
“The most important part of my life came in San Sebastian: my new family,” said 31-year-old Vela in an an interview with GQ.
“I came from three years of being in London, which I couldn’t adapt to. I don’t know how to explain it specifically. It was a place I don’t have good memories of. I wanted to get out of there.
“There I started to enjoy my football again after three such bad years of living in England.
“I didn’t know anything about the Basque Country. I wanted to leave so much that when I heard I had a good offer to play and leave England, it was a case of me saying: ‘I love it! Yes, let’s go!’”
Vela has developed a reputation as a sharp-shooter in the MLS, and recently scored a stunning chip to spoil the party in Inter Miami’s first ever match.
He has fired 57 goals in 71 games for LAFC since switching to the franchise in 2018.
Vela also scored 19 goals in 72 matches for Mexico, helping them win the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2009 and 2015 before retiring from international football.