Cape Town - Per Mertesacker says he feels partly responsible for the manner of Arsene Wenger's departure from Arsenal at the end of last season.
Wenger left the Gunners after 22 years, with Unai Emery taking over this season - a move that most supporters of the club felt was necessary following a number of trophyless years.
Speaking to German website Spox, the former Germany and Arsenal midfielder, who is now the north London club's Arsenal Academy head, admitted he felt bad after Wenger's exit.
He said: "It was a bit surprising for us. He came into the meeting and said that he had decided together with the bosses to leave at the end of the season.
"It was a sad moment because I had the feeling I contributed my share to it. His farewell was also the players’ fault because we had many chances to get better results. We failed while he backed us all the time.
"I was the first who felt the need to say something and said I deeply regretted it. It was important for him to see that we had something to say as a team and that we stood by his side."
Mertesacker added: "When the news of his departure was finally out, the atmosphere changed.
"It was said what a great man he was, who changed this club extremely. You could not have had more success with this team. He got a deserved farewell and left this club as a legend."