A tall, lean central defender, Per Mertesacker has been a stalwart for Germany since 2004, appearing in two FIFA World Cups as well as UEFA EURO 2008, where he was a losing finalist. After five impressively consistent seasons with SV Werder Bremen, he has found the going rather tougher in England with Arsenal FC.
• Joined the youth ranks of home-town club Hannover 96 at the age of 11 and graduated to the first team, making his Bundesliga debut against 1. FC Köln in November 2003 and holding down a regular berth in central defence over the next two seasons.
• His first cap for Germany came ten days after his 20th birthday − in the Iranian capital of Teheran − and he was ever-present at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring his first international goal on his competitive debut, a 4-3 win against Australia in Frankfurt.
• Started and finished every match bar the third-place play-off at the 2006 World Cup, despite carrying a leg injury that subsequently required surgery.
• Joined Bremen after the World Cup and scored the winning goal in a 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group game at home to Chelsea FC − his first in Europe − before helping the club into the last four of the UEFA Cup later that season.
• Helped Bremen reach the finals of the UEFA Cup and German Cup in 2009 but injury denied him participation in both showpieces; amassed 147 Bundesliga and 53 European appearances for the club before leaving for Arsenal in late August 2011.
• Ever-present for Germany at UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he is the only player not to have missed a minute of final tournament action under current Nationalmannschaft coach Joachim Löw.
UEFA European Championship: runner-up 2008