By 90Min
November 25, 2017

Arsenal star Granit Xhaka didn't have an easy time growing up, and he has revealed that it's the reason for his mental toughness.

The tough-tackling midfielder spent three years without his dad as a youth, after Ragip Xhaka was imprisoned for taking part in demonstrations against the communist government in Belgrade back in 1986.

The former Borussia Monchengladbach player spoke exclusively to the Guardian earlier this month about his family's past ordeal, and continued in the same vein in an interview with the Gunners this weekend.

“You get that from your upbringing,” Xhaka told Arsenal's official website. “I’ve never been as open about my background and my family as in my last interview. It was a hard time for my parents. I wasn’t born. I think the mental strength comes from home. 

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/GettyImages

“I ask my dad about it a lot. You might not want to do it initially because you hear things, but I started asking when I was about 18 and was able to realise what happened myself. I’ve asked him often but I think the full, true story, about how things really were, is one he may not ever tell me. 

“My dad played football too, in the former Yugoslavia. Maybe it comes a bit from that, from the family, but you need some luck too. My brother was always going to go in the direction of football. 

“With me, it was more between school and football. Eventually, it worked out for both of us. We’re pleased to have gone down that path. I’m proud that my parents always supported us, in good and in bad times. You need that.”

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