Arteta: 'I was in a room with Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta. That was the quality we had there. I tell you, even then you could look at a young Iniesta and see that he was destined for the first team. You just knew he was going to do very well'
Arteta: 'But there were also guys there who were not so dedicated, who had different characters. The ones who would not do this exercise, who would skip this and that in training, who would say, 'Let's jump the fence and go party. Because when you are 'nearly there' as a player, it is easy to lose your head. So I did that with them a few times, up and over the wall and into town'
Arteta: 'I didn't really want to do it, I did it because the other lads wanted me to, or were saying 'Oh, you haven't the balls to do it!'
Arteta: 'But then I was caught and Barca were really, really tough with me. That was the day that I learned that, if I really wanted to succeed at football, I had to be totally focused on my game — not following those other guys'
- While Arteta went on to play for PSG, Real Sociedad, Rangers and Everton before signing for Arsenal last summer, it must be very frustrating for him to see how every player he shared a room with in La Masia ultimately made it into Barça's best ever team and, consequently, World Cup glory with the Spanish National Team.
The FC Barcelona youth system is an extremely competitive place to be in, especially as you are surrounded by youngsters who, like you, want to achieve success and play at the Camp Nou next to the biggest stars on the planet. Jealousy, envy and competitiveness reaches players (who are actually children), parents and coaches alike.
Contrary to what many people believe, not all Barça youngsters live at La Masia. Most Catalan players actually live at home with their parents and are driven to training on a daily basis after attending their local schools. A clear example of this is Xavi: He didn't actually live in La Masia, he travelled from Terrassa to Barcelona on a daily basis.
Anyways, back to topic: When you play for the Barça youth system, everyone wants to be your friend, be close to you in case you end up making it big one day. Those are the exact same people who will leave you when you're failing. Having a balanced life off the pitch is key to success on it.
At this moment in time, we are lucky to have Guardiola as our first team's coach. Pep is a brave coach who, like his assistant Tito Vilanova, understands what it takes to go through the tough La Masia process, growing up away from your family, meaning to be fully focused on football while having nightlife, temptation and bad influences all around you in central Barcelona even before you become a grown man.
If Barça is were we are today, is thanks to the fact that Guardiola and his coaching team have assembled a group of devoted footballers who are committed to the Blaugrana cause, not only as professionals but also in their personal lives. The times of Ronaldinho, Deco and Motta closing midweek discos at 7am are long gone...
Arteta has gone on to be a decent football player, but we will never known how great he could have truly been if his choices had been better as a teenager.
LA MASIA: THE BIRTHPLACE OF FOOTBALL LEGENDS BUT ALSO A DIFFICULT JOURNEY TO THE TOP!!!!