The Cameroon international spent seven seasons in the Premier League, establishing himself as an important part of Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side, before attracting the interest of Barcelona who paid £15 million to prise him from north London in 2012.
Song struggled to command a regular first-team place during his four-year spell with the Spanish giants, though the midfielder has revealed the prospect of financial security in Catalonia was his main motivation after being careless with his earnings during his younger years in English football.
“Most footballers live beyond their means. I was at Arsenal for eight years but only began to earn a good living in the last four,” Song said during a chat with the Toronto Raptors basketball star Pascal Siakam on Instagram Live. “That was because my salary went up a lot – but also because I came to realise what a waster I was.
life at arsenal
“When I first joined them I was getting £15,000 a week. I was a young lad, and I was ecstatic. I wanted to rub shoulders with the big boys. I could shop wherever I wanted and have crazy nights out.
“I would go to training and see Thierry Henry – the King – turn up in an absolute gem of a car. I told myself I wanted the same car at all costs.
“I went to the dealership, signed the papers and arranged to pay for it by standing order – and just like that I had the same car as The King.
“But I swear that I had to hand the car back inside two months. All my money was going on filling it with petrol. I told them, ‘Give me a Toyota – this car’s too much for me’. When I next went to training Thierry asked me, ‘Where’s your car, son?’ I told him it’s on a higher level than me.
“During my entire time at Arsenal, I couldn’t even save £100,000, while people thought I must be a millionaire.”
Song admits he ‘didn’t think twice’ when offered a significant deal to sign for Barcelona eight years ago, revealing he ‘didn’t give a f***’ when informed his playing time would be restricted upon his move to Spain.
“When Barcelona offered me a contract and I saw how much I would earn, I didn’t think twice. I felt my wife and children should have comfortable lives once my career is over,” he added.
“I met Barca’s sporting director, and he told me I would not get to play many games. But I didn’t give a f*** – I knew that now I would become a millionaire.
“I’ll always say that a 20-year-old who drives a Ferrari is a poor man, as at that age he’s not yet achieved anything. But a man of 50 who drives a Bentley is a man to be respected.”