The 33-year-old has been one of the key reasons for Gladbach, once a giant of German football, awaking from their slumber to become one of the Bundesliga’s finest representatives in recent seasons. bundesliga.com presents ten things you might not have known about the Foals' midfield maestro…
Arango was born in the western Venezuelan town of Maracay on 17 May 1980, but he spent much of his younger years playing in the country's capital Caracas, turning out for the youth team of Central University of Venezuela (pictured). In 1996, still aged just 16, he made the breakthrough to become a professional, signing for Nueva Cadiz, who later became Zulianos FC.
After another season back in the capital with Caracas FC, the talented midfielder made the leap abroad, moving to Mexico and joining CF Monterrey. He then had stints as CF Pachuca and Puebla CF, before upping sticks, this time to Europe in 2004. His destination was Spain and his new club RCD Mallorca, whom he served for five seasons, playing close to 200 La Liga games and competing against the likes of former England captain and Real Madrid star David Beckham (l.).
Arango was a staple of the Mallorca side for the best part of his stay in the Balearic Islands, except for a brief spell in 2005. In a league game against Sevilla FC, he was brutally fouled by Sevilla's Javi Navarro, resulting in concussion and loss of consciousness. There were fears for his life, but not from Arango himself, who has no memory of the incident. Six weeks later, having recovered from 40 stitches to the face and a broken bone in his cheek, he was back in action and announced his return with a goal.
'The hurricane of the Caribbean' has experienced both highs and lows since moving to Mönchengladbach in 2009. After a 12th-placed finish in 2010, Gladbach avoided relegation in 2011 and then sealed a UEFA Champions League qualification berth in 2012. Now entering his fifth season with the Foals, Arango says he's ready for more. "I haven't thought about retiring [when my contract ends in 2014]. I look after myself well so that I can keep playing beyond then," he told Deutsche Welle.
His sweeter moments at Borussia Park have came hand-in-hand with head coach Lucien Favre's arrival in February 2011. The Swiss tactician masterminded not only 20110/11's great escape but also 2011/12's fourth-placed finish, in which Arango started all 34 league games. The Venezuelan credits his coach for his spike in form. "When you play a lot of minutes you feel important to the team. Favre gave me confidence and I used it. We have understood each other since the beginning."
His coach describes him as one of the world's best left-footed players and it's easy to see why. In the 2012/13 season, Arango scored five goals, all with his trusted left peg and all of them potential goal of the season candidates. "It's true that I seem to score more difficult goals than easy ones," he revealed to Die Welt. "I have no idea why, though. I've always been good with my left foot, but I can't do anything with my right. I only use it for driving!"
What defined Gladbach in 2011/12 when they finished fourth was their breath-taking, attacking football. Arango was one of their chief proponents, while the other was Marco Reus. The two of them had an almost telepathic understanding of one another's game, even if communication was an issue at first. "To begin with it was hard because of the language barrier, but on the pitch we soon understood one another. For me, Marco is one of the best, not just in the Bundesliga but in Europe too."
Arango is considered by many to be the greatest player Venezuela has ever produced. He is the country's joint record appearance-maker with 115 caps, scoring 22 goals, and has been captain since 2007, appearing in five Copa America tournaments. He makes sure, though, that he is not the only beneficiary of his success. "When I was younger, there were very few Venezuelans playing abroad. I've tried to give Venezuelan football a new face, and I think I've succeeded." In 2013, he also won the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) award for Most Popular Footballer Among Currently Active Players.
Despite the progress of Arango and other Venezuelan players, football is still not the country's foremost sport. That position is occupied by baseball, a game in which Arango is no novice either: "I played a lot of baseball when I was younger and considered being a professional, but in the end I chose football. I still play a lot when I go back home though. Believe me, I'm a very good player!"
He has played in four countries and on three continents, as well as established himself as quite possibly, his country's finest player. One more feat would cement that reputation, however: to lead his country to its first ever FIFA World Cup. Venezuela are currently lying sixth in their South American qualifying pool for next summer's tournament in Brazil and are in with a shout of qualifying with three games left to play. "Venezuela have never played at a World Cup," he said. "To get there would be indescribable."
Compiled by Bernie Reeves