Having enjoyed a professional career that peaked with a World Cup win in 2014, many would assume that Arsenal's Per Mertesacker is looking reluctantly toward the prospect of his imminent retirement.
However, in a deeply personal interview with the German publication Der Spiegel, Mertesacker has spoken with alarming honesty about the physical and mental difficulties he faced throughout the entirety of his career.
From driving his roommates crazy with movements during the night, to at least 500 occasions on which he has suffered bouts of "diarrhea on the mornings of matches," for a man who has played at the very pinnacle of the professional game, issues would very often haunt him up to the moment a match began:
The tension becomes almost unbearable.
"My stomach starts churning and I feel like I'm going to throw up. Then I have to choke so hard that I tear up."
He always turns his head to the side with his chin facing his shoulder so that no one can see what is happening -- no TV cameras, no coaches, no teammates. So that no one will ever ask what's wrong with him before each match, what's wrong with Per Mertesacker, the quiet, confident defender.
Well-aware of the good-fortune that life as a professional footballer has afforded him, the Arsenal captain nonetheless believes it is vital that people recognise the person behind the player.
Describing the pressure of playing in the 2006 World Cup in Germany as "inhuman," their semi-final defeat to Italy came as a relief; "But could I have said that? That I was happy that we were out?"
Set to finally retire from professional football at the end of the season, Mertesacker is due to commence a new role within Arsenal's academy. He is hopeful that his experience will help those who come after him.