The Granit Xhaka Movie Script – From being abused at Arsenal to becoming a legend at Leverkusen

Arsenal at the weekend were missing a leader, desperate for character, in need of a personality, someone with a voice.

We needed Granit Xhaka!

That will hurt a few to hear because for many (including on justArsenal) he was an easy target.

The Swiss captain was busy on Sunday though. At the same time thousands were leaving the Emirates early, the ex-Gunner midfielder was celebrating winning the Bundesliga.

When I watched his interview on the Players Tribune years ago, I mentioned how you could make a movie out of the man’s story. How he went from throwing down the captain’s armband in 2019 to lifting the FA Cup that same season.

How he thought he would never pull on the red and white shirt again, but instead was one of our best players in the closest campaign we were to winning the Prem since it last happened.

His dad was in attendance that day his son threw down the armband in response to the jeers that greeted his substitute. The Father suggested to his son it would be a good idea to leave England. The perfect ending of the story would come in Germany not the UK.

The 31 old would not have enjoyed his former employer’s losing control of the title race, but he would have seen the irony. As Bayer Leverkusen fans ran on the pitch to congratulate him as a hero, he would have thought back to supporters in North London who also used to surround him on match days. Only to block his car so they could swear at him and his family. That’s how the movie could start, a now and then shot.

Maybe the editor could show the midfielder’s long-range strike against Werder Bremen as he voices over the verbal abuse he used to receive at his last place of work.

The player would admit how some of the vile words he received impacted his mental health. Others didn’t have much sympathy.

Those who hid behind their keyboards would have been sad on the same day the person they targeted was having one of the biggest days of his career.

Those who threatened him would have felt numb while he smiled the widest grins.

Grown adults who swore down a camera with those familiar feelings in their tummy.

Those who threatened shocked, their target was delighted.

Mr. Xhaka has too much class to ever point out this irony. I bet his wife doesn’t though! Not when it was wished she would die and that her baby got cancer!

Say that out loud. There are Arsenal ‘fans’ who wished that on a young family because they felt someone was not good at his job.

I always admired Xhaka for never being pressured to apologise, instead sticking to his convictions. Even when his disciplinary record was questioned, his principle is that you should never change who you are.

That’s the the message to take away from his tale, that’s his legacy.

This season Xhaka has been rewarded for his good decisions. He wasn’t forced out of the capital of England, he left on his terms.

One of Arteta’s biggest mistakes as manager was not convincing one of few leaders we had to stay. The last player we had publicly called out to his peers for always going missing at this time of year.

Mr. Wenger warned that a section of the fan base was in danger of ruining the proud Arsenal values he had helped to promote. Ultimately Mr. Xhaka’s legacy will be a time frame that didn’t paint supporters in the best of light, that put a spotlight on fan channels and made some look at themselves in the mirror. With pure honesty, Xhaka took his critics and turned the tables on them.

He was the face of one of the worst periods in our history. Where it was common for players to talk about how fans were mentally impacting them. How embarrassing.

If this were a movie shouldn’t Xhaka get the happy every ending and not those who abused him?

Isn’t that a great story to tell his daughter, a great lesson to be learnt. Making him a role model.

In 7 years as a Gunner, Xhaka was abused online, outside our stadium, his family has death and cancer wished upon them.

Granit Xhaka though will one day return to Switzerland, and he will be okay.

He will be stronger and wiser than the youngster who left his homeland.

He won’t ever forget the threats, the taunts, the abuse …. how his family felt not safe.

Yet he got rewarded for his character, for the person he is.

He returns home …. a Champion!

Gooners might have to go into their 21st year still waiting to be able to say that.

Let’s be honest …. some deserve that.

Dan Smith

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  1. Xhaka was and is a good player… only took management years and years to play him in his proper position which was the big issue. He was never a DM but was continuously played there.

    1. Agreed
      I was one at one point said we should get rid
      How wrong.was I
      The last few seasons we saw the best of him and it is no coincidence that he has led the team to be winners
      I do class him one of our own and extremely happy for his success
      Well done and congratulations too xhaka and his family

  2. i am happy for Xhaka, and all the best to him

    i am not sure about this Arsenal nostalgic love in though

    for me he had one good season out of seven, and far from player of the season in that one!

    his behaviour and discipline issues conveniently forgotten

    rare showed up for the big games, unless you count getting himself sent-off

    criticised his team mates in the media

    and, while I don’t blame Xhaka for our end of season collapse, there is a clear turning point when 2 nil up away at Anfield when Xhaka got aggro in a needless scrap that turned the tide

    we went on the draw 2 – 2 with Liverpool
    2 – 2 with West Ham
    3 – 3 with Southampton
    4 – 1 spanking by Man C

    3 points from 12, top spot surrendered, season over

    all the best to Xhaka at his new club, hopefully more trophies for him and Arsenal

  3. Happy for Xhaka certainly …….. for this kind of ending.

    Also happy that MA made efforts to delay his departure from Arsenal despite the bad fan behaviour.

    Will always miss his long range strikes …….

  4. One of the most underrated player to put on the Arsenal shirt. I remember sticking up for him when 95% of my Arsenal mates wanted him gone. Good luck to him. Id love to see him back as a coach sometime in the future.

  5. As us all have already known. Granit Xhaka has left Arsenal FC for the Bubddeslisga outfit club side Bayern Leverkusen on transfer since last summer window on a fee paid to Arsenal.
    And him and his Leverkusen club team mates have won the Germany title just this last Sunday.
    But if one is to be truthful and kindid. Xhaka deserved those abuses and troll he had received at the time he got them from Arsenal fans, which were a hit back at him by them for his swearing and cursing at them in the stands. When they jeered at him to hurry up to leave the pitch as he walked lazily off it. When he was substituted in a Arsenal’s home match against Crystal Palace in the Epl.
    Or have us now forgotten that Xhaka’s unruly and insulting action episodes to the Gooners. Which he has never apologized for to them to date. Caused the abuses the Gooners had abused him with them then.

  6. i AM HAPPY FOR Xhaka,though only to a small degree. Though it must be said that as a an EX -Arsenal player, my interest in him since he left us is strictly VERY LIMITED.

    But Dan, who writes article all the time, is plainly not going to miss this opportunity to write about him.

    Nor essentially about ANYTHING ELSE, either.
    Not my style, but good luck to those who wish it.

    Personally, I do not much care about NON Arsenal players , once they have left. Simple as that!!

    1. Good for you Jon – does that mean you won’t bring up Ozil, Aubameyang, Elneny, Mertesaker etc again?

      I’m pleased to be able to say that I was one of those who stood by Xhaka through thick and thin – Why? – Because he wore the shirt and our manager (s) played him!!

      1. YES Ken on ONE condition. YOU promisde never to bring up WENGER, EVEN WHEN MANY POSTERS CRITICISE HIM.
        No, OF COURSE YOU WILL BE UNABLE TO DO THAT AS YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY PROGRAMMED TO DEFEND WENGER when ever anyone, no matter whom, not only me, says ANTHING against him.

        Remember this post and what I said, as I will promise but only if YOU promise . But I know you wont, in fact you are unable to do so, so there is your answer!

  7. How can a club play a guy in the wrong position for years before they learn how to use him? Every one who have watched the Swiss national team know how good Granit Xhaka can be. In the QF of 2020 Euro vs the French world champions he was the Man of the Match, but in Arsenal he was still played in a defensive position that didn’t suited him at all. First the season 2022/23 he got the chance to play at the top of his capacity. Now he’s winning Bundesliga with B. Leverkusen. Great.

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