Arsenal Academy head coach Per Mertesacker has hailed the positive effect of Ethan Nwaneri’s full Arsenal debut aged 15 years and 181 days against Brentford.
Nwaneri whose father hails from Imo state, South Eastern Nigeria was brought on as a late substitute in the 3-0 victory on 18 September, making him the youngest player to debut in Arsenal history and breaking Harvey Elliott’s record as the Premier League’s youngest debutant in the process.
Mertesacker, who has managed Arsenal’s academy since retiring from playing in 2018 after playing for the Gunners, has spoken about the debut and praised the positive knock-on effect it has had around the club.
“I have to say how much it trickled down,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “I’ve seen videos of the under-9, under-10 squads cheering Ethan on at Hale End when he came on.
“Players that would start the same journey as he did, in the grassroots academy, were cheering him on. So all of a sudden he has been escalated to be a role model and a positive influence for young players.”
The German also praised Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta for the ‘powerful message’ Nwaneri’s debut sent and further explained: “It’s just brilliant to see, that’s what we are proud of, that we can show progression, that we can show pathways.
“It was a very proud moment, first of all for himself and his family. It’s a reflection as well of what this club is about, what the academy is about.
“A lot of youngsters entering the academy have the dream of playing for Arsenal Football Club and he made that dream come true. It was a proud moment for us as an academy.”
Nwaneri is in line for Cup games for the north London club.
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