Ex-Arsenal star Alexander Hleb married singer from pop band Topless, fell out with Pep and cried ...
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ALEXANDER HLEB is regarded as the best footballer Belarus has ever produced.
On our shores, he's most famous for his time at Arsenal - dancing down the right wing in a Gunners midfield which featured , Alex Song and Samir Nasri.
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from 2005-08, scoring 10 goals, then moved to Barcelona for around £12million.
Hleb, now 38, admitted he cried his eyes out at leaving his spiritual North London home.
Since then, he's had spells in England, Turkey, and back in Belarus, which he says isn't taking the coronavirus very seriously and has the only European league still playing.
"The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League," he told .
"This is good, because you have to try and stop it. Uefa have done the right thing.
“But in Belarus, it’s like no one cares. It’s incredible. Maybe in one week or two weeks we will stop here. Maybe our President is just waiting to see what happens with the virus."
In a documentary about his life, he revealed: "We played beautifully. It's a shame we didn't take a single title, but the enjoyment we had was unparalleled.
"Relationships within the team were great. I woke up every morning and felt awesome because I was doing my thing.
"I loved every aspect - seeing the faces of my partners, my friends during training sessions. It was unforgettable."
But after three years at the Emirates, Barcelona and Pep Guardiola came calling and Hleb could not say no to joining the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
However, he did shed a tear when he was sent an emotional text message by his former boss Wenger.
“It’s still difficult for me to explain why I left Arsenal,” Hleb told .
“I was absolutely happy there. Arsene completely trusted me, it was idyllic. And then I decided to leave.
“I was on vacation and agents and managers convinced me that I had to go to Barcelona. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what I was doing. At some point, I realised, ‘Oh god! I’m leaving Arsenal!’
“When Arsene said that it was a matter of hours, I felt devastated. It was really hard for me to accept that. Wenger did everything to make me stay at Arsenal.
“He even texted me as I was fishing. ‘Alex, I won’t let you go, we need you here.’ I cried when I read it.”
Being the most famous sports star in Belarus brings its suitors.
Hleb has been married twice. His first wife was pop singer Anastasia Kosenkova, who was a member of Belarusian pop group Topless.
They got hitched in 2008, but six years later their romance was headed for divorce.
Two years passed, and Hleb was walking down the aisle again with pretty brunette Sviatlana.
In 2016, the pair welcomed his first child together at the age of 36, a daughter, and they have another daughter from her previous marriage.
The happy family often share romantic snaps on Instagram together.
After a disappointing La Liga campaign in the 2008-09 season, many were calling for Hleb to be dropped from the Barcelona first team.
And Guardiola duly obliged the Nou Camp faithful by not picking him for the most important game of the season, which felt like a knife in the back for the player.
“In May, we were playing Manchester United in the Champions League final and Guardiola left me out of the squad," Hleb revealed.
"It was absolutely devastating. I remember talking with (Thierry) Henry, and he said, ‘I get it, I get it. But be stronger than this.’
“But I still felt like there was a knife in my back. I never spoke to Guardiola after that. I could understand him because I didn’t behave well enough myself. But it was incredibly painful.”
As for footballing fathers, Wenger will always be Hleb's.
After suffering an injury in his first season at the Emirates, his confidence was drained and he wanted to move back to the Bundesliga, where Arsenal had bought him from Stuttgart.
Wenger was having none of it, though, and backed his man.
“During my first season in England, I picked up in injury while playing for the national team," Hleb revealed.
"So, as I was trying to recover from it, I told Arsene that maybe it would make sense to send me on loan to Germany or something.
“He was like, ‘Stop it! I believe in you! Don’t even think about things like that.’ Honestly? I just flew out of the room. It really felt like I had wings.
“Arsene truly feels his players. He says exactly what a player needs to hear. I think there are very few guys who might say that they haven’t enjoyed working with him."
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