Per Mertesacker (German pronunciation: [ˈpeːɐ̯ ˈmɛʁtəsʔakɐ]; born 29 September 1984) is a German professional footballer who plays as a centre back and captain of English club Arsenal. He also played for the German national team but retired in August 2014 after winning the World Cup. Mertesacker is a youth product of Hannover 96 and he made his senior league debut in November 2003. He was soon dubbed "the Defence Pole" ("die Abwehrlatte") by German tabloids and gained a reputation for his good disciplinary record, going 31 Bundesliga games without being booked. Since joining Arsenal, their fans have nicknamed him "the BFG", which is short for "Big Fucking German" and an allusion to Roald Dahl's The BFG due to his height. He has been described as an imposing, reliable, dominant and an accomplished defender.
With Werder Bremen, Mertesacker has won a DFB-Pokal title and finished runner-up in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup. With his quiet-but-effective game, he established himself as Germany's first choice centre-back. Prior to playing at senior level, he played at the under-20 and under-21 levels. In September 2004, Jürgen Klinsmann, then-manager of the German senior team, called Mertesacker up to the 9 October 2004 game against Iran.
He made his debut less than two weeks after his 20th birthday when he came on as a second-half substitute for Christian Wörns. Over the course of his final two seasons at Bremen, the defender received just one yellow card in 63 league matches. He has participated in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups and the UEFA Euros in 2008 and 2012. In 2006, the defender established the "Per Mertesacker Stiftung", a charitable foundation that helps support amateur sportsmen and the poor.