Yossi Benayoun has admitted that he was ‘surprised’ at being chosen as Arsenal captain for the 1-0 Carling Cup defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday.
The Israeli skipper, who signed on a season-long loan from Premier League rivals Chelsea in August, captained a fairly experienced side which included the likes of Lukasz Fabianski and Laurent Koscielny.
However, boss Arsene Wenger opted to hand Benayoun the captain’s armband instead – something which he certainly didn’t anticipate before the cup clash.
“The truth is I did not expect this, but it was a nice moment. When the line-up was revealed at the hotel (a few hours before the match), I saw the letter ‘C’ next to my name; I thought there was some mix up. But overall it was a nice experience”, Benayoun told Israeli radio station Non Stop 103.3FM.
“It was nice to be captain for the night, but what matters most was the result and eventually we lost the game.
“It was the first time I played as captain in England. It’s a great honour, even though I’ve only been at the club for a short period while there are players who have played here for a few years, I still got the armband. But for me it’s more important to work hard and get more opportunities in the Premier League”.
Benayoun, 31, has previously said he is ‘hopeful’ of making his loan move from Chelsea permanent at the end of the season, something which Wenger himself hasn’t ruled out just yet.
Despite finding it hard to break into the Arsenal midfield this season, Benayoun never doubted his choice in joining the north Londoners and admits it was the Gunners’ manager who persuaded him to sign on the dotted line.
“The negotiations with Arsenal were really quick and they showed real interest in me, so it was an easy choice. I also spoke to Arsene Wenger before signing at the club. He said he believed in my experience and ability to contribute to the squad and to play in several positions, so I was convinced quickly [to sign for Arsenal]”.
Kudos to MeiriAdi for the translations.