Arsenal midfielder Alex Song has been a revelation for the Gunners this season – and he puts a lot of his progress down to the inspiration provided by his footballing idol Michael Essien.

Chelsea’s Ghana international is the driving force in the Blues’ engine room, and Song is now playing a similar starring role for the Gunners.

Song joined Arsenal in 2005, initially on loan from Bastia, before Arsene Wenger swooped to sign the rising Cameroon star for £1 million in the summer of 2006.

“I watched Michael Essien in the first team, and it made me very very happy.” Song told

“When he started to play he did very well. Everyone just loved him. That is when I realised, if I work hard I can be like him. I think this time I can be a good professional if I work hard.

“You need to have a strong mentality because when you start at the age of 14-years-old in Bastia it is not easy because you have all your friends just go out when you leave. You have to be focused on the academy, work hard, go to training, go to school and come back home.

“You have to strong in your head, and it was hard because all my family were in Paris. It was not easy, I just tried to do my best. But today when I see my friends we go out, and I think I did a good thing to stay in the academy. I made a lot of sacrifices but now I am very lucky man.”