Tuesday, March 12, 2013 is a day that Anthony Jeffrey is unlikely to ever forget.
Having excelled during Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup campaign, the winger joined League One outfit Stevenage at the start of March and was handed his competitive debut during a 1-0 home defeat to eventual runners-up Bournemouth.
With the hosts trailing in the closing stages, the then-manager Gary Smith introduced Jeffrey for a 10-minute cameo.
My debut was one of the best moments of my life. It's what you dream of as a kidAnthony Jeffrey
That proved to be the only first-team football that the 18-year-old experienced while at the Lamex Stadium, but for Jeffrey - who says he is prepared to move temporarily again this term - the opportunity to enhance his understanding of league football was extremely beneficial.
“I learnt a lot mentally more than anything,” he told Arsenal.com. “I think I've come back a much more mature player and I think that showed in my performances towards the end of last season.
“I've still got a lot of things to work on. It showed me that football is not easy but with hard work, you will get there eventually.
“I spoke to the manager and he said I had to be patient. At a young age it's very difficult to play because we were in a relegation battle.
“My manager [Smith] lost his job which was another new experience for me because I've never been in a situation where that has happened. All in all, it was a very good experience.
“My debut was one of the best moments of my life. It's what you dream of as a kid. I came on against Bournemouth and it was a good game to come on in. The atmosphere was great and the fans were too. I want to thank Stevenage for the opportunity. Hopefully I can go back on loan again next season.”
Obviously you work on fitness but you work on tactical stuff tooSteve Gatting
While another loan spell could be on the agenda in the coming months, Jeffrey’s immediate objective is to return to match fitness. The exciting forward impressed in his first outing of the campaign as an Arsenal XI beat Sutton United last week, opening the scoring early on.
Next up for Jeffrey and co is a trip to Boreham Wood on Saturday. The fixture has become a regular in the young Gunners’ pre-season preparations in recent years and the winger, along with boss Steve Gatting, is looking forward to another workout.
“At the moment it’s all about getting back to fitness,” Jeffrey said. “I was at Power League every day during the break until 10.30 at night. I'm always trying to work on my game and improve as much as I can.''
“Obviously you work on fitness but you work on tactical stuff, too,” Gatting added. “It's an important part of the season. We're going to Germany soon with this bunch of kids and it will be good to get to know the kids and work on things.”
You can follow live updates from an Arsenal XI’s friendly against Boreham Wood at Meadow Park from 2.55pm on the @ArsenalLive account.Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source