Mikel Arteta has spoken about his decision to bring Ethan Nwaneri on for his Premier League debut at the age of 15 years, 181 days, becoming Arsenal and the league’s youngest ever player.
He broke Cesc Fabregas‘ Arsenal record when coming on to the pitch in the 90th minute, having impressed Arteta so far when training with the first team squad. With his age, it would normally be expected for an Arsenal youngster to train at the team’s Hale End base, but such is his talent the attacking midfielder has been brought in to train with the first team at London Colney.
Arteta has been sufficiently impressed to bring the player in to his matchday squad and giving a debut to the player who is eligible for Nigeria through his parents.
After the match against Brentford, the Gunners boss revealed that he gave the player his chance following a strong recommendation from academy boss Per Mertesacker.
Speaking to the press after the match, Arteta revealed the characteristics which have prompted such a quick rise to his first team, saying: “I told him yesterday that he was going to be with us and that I want him to experience how it is to be in the hotel, to do a preparation of the game to be around the boys and that he had to be ready. If you’re going to be on that bench you have to be ready. The boy just looks in your eyes and he’s ready.”
While it was only a fleeting glimpse of his talents, with a packed schedule this season it almost certainly won’t be the last that Gunners fans see of the young star.
Arteta also spoke of his temperament, revealing that it was a gut instinct which persuaded him to give the 15 year old a chance.
Arteta explained: “It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy really liked what I saw. Per Mertesacker and the academy staff are giving me really good information, Edu as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us. Yesterday he had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin [Odegaard], and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it and I just done it.”
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