Mikel Arteta has paid tribute to Pep Guardiola ahead of their FA Cup fourth round clash.
The Arsenal manager worked under Guardiola at Manchester City before taking charge at Emirates Stadium in December 2019, and is now in the middle of a title race in the Premier League with his former mentor.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Friday's game between the Gunners and City and the Etihad Stadium, Arteta said he was inspired by Guardiola, and compared his impact on football to that of Johan Cruyff.
"I feel gratitude, first of all, because he inspired me as a player, and he inspired me and gave me the opportunity as a coach," the Spaniard said.
"I wouldn't probably have had the career that I had as a player, the understanding of the game or the purpose that I had as a player if he hadn't been at that time at Barcelona.
"And I wouldn't be sitting here and having that willingness and that love for coaching if we hadn't crossed in my life and he hadn't given the opportunity that he gave me. That's it."
90 - @EddieNketiah9 is the second @Arsenal player to score a 90th minute winner against Manchester United in the Premier League, after Thierry Henry in January 2007. Fourteen. pic.twitter.com/CorwCmg7ed— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 22, 2023
Arteta spent three years as a player in Barcelona's C and B teams before leaving for Rangers in 2002, while Guardiola was a part of the Blaugrana's first team at the same time.
"I was looking at him and I just wanted to do it what he was doing," Arteta explained. "And I loved the way he played and the way he was transmitting on the pitch and his understanding what was happening on the pitch. It was an inspiration, since I was 18 years old."
Guardiola helped turn Barca into a dominant force as a head coach, before successful spells at Bayern Munich and City, and Arteta said he has picked up a lot from working with him closely.
"I think the influence that Pep has had on football in the past 20 years, it's just incredibly powerful," he said. "He changed the game, like Johan did in the past... we have been inspired by a lot of things that he's done.
"Everyone has to build his own career and his own pathway. A career is not for six months, or a year, or two years. Let's see and let everybody develop the way that they should."