From Gtech Community Stadium – Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has explained that it was a ‘gut feeling’ to bring Ethan Nwaneri on as a substitute in their 3-0 win at Brentford, making him the youngest Premier League player of all time by a considerable distance.
Nwaneri came on in second half stoppage time and, aged just 15 years and 181 days, breaking Harvey Elliott’s record set in 2019 (16 years and 30 days).
Premier League protocols meant that Nwaneri was too young to even be in the Arsenal dressing room on the day, and speaking post-match, Arteta revealed his thinking behind calling the schoolboy into the senior team.
“It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy, I really liked what I saw, the academy staff gave my really good information about him.
“I met him, he trained a couple of times with us, yesterday he had to come because we had all the injuries, especially with Martin [Odegaard]. And then I had that feeling from yesterday that the opportunity could happen, that I was going to do it, and I just did it.
“It’s another step in your career, another experience, because not all are going to be forwards. After that, maybe he needs three backwards to have another forward.
“But I think he deserved it and it sends a strong message about who we are as a club.
“I don’t know what it is. When I met him, I looked at him and had that feeling. We want to give opportunities when there is talent, when there is personality. and when there are players that love what they do so much, they have no fear. The door is open to explore where they can go.”