The France international wore the captain’s armband as he made his long-awaited Gunners comeback
Hector Bellerin says “it’s one of the best feelings” to be fit again and has returned a “better player” after making his first Arsenal start in more than nine months.
The France international captained the Gunners in their 4-0 Europa league win against Belgium outfit Standard Liege at Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined since January after suffering a ruptured cruciate knee ligament during a Premier League match against Chelsea.
Speaking after the game, Bellerin expressed his delight to be back on the field again and also feels his long rehabilitation means he returns as a better footballer.
“It’s one of the best feelings to be back,” he told BT Sport. “It has made me more mature, it has made me a better player I am so thankful for everyone around me, they have made it easier for me and I am now happy to be back playing football.”
It was a victorious return for Bellerin, with 18-year-old Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli scoring twice in a 4-0 win for the Gunners.
Martinelli also set up Dani Ceballos for his first Arsenal goal with Joe Willock also on target in what was a comfortable evening for Unai Emery’s side.
The win moves the north London club six points clear at the top Group F with two wins from two.
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“The team had a great performance,” added Bellerin. “It’s a very important win for us. We played 100% and wanted to get more goals.
“We wanted to press, the team is hungry, the team wants to win and wants to improve and I am very pleased for the boys.”
Speaking about goalscorer Martinelli, who joined Arsenal from Ituano for £6 million ($7.4m) this summer, Bellerin said: “He has been a player, he keeps his head down, he works really hard, he is doing what the coach wants him to do and it shows on the pitch. Everyone is really pleased for him.”