By Richard Clarke
Emmanuel Frimpong has admitted that he thought his Arsenal career was over when he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in the summer of 2010.
Back then, the young midfielder’s development was in tandem with that of Jack Wilshere, his team-mate throughout their rise through the ranks. Both caught the eye in pre-season friendlies but, following Frimpong’s injury, their paths diverted. Wilshere went on to shine with Arsenal and England, his old pal was left playing catch-up.
Now Frimpong’s time has arrived. He is expected to feature in midfield as Arsenal see-out Champions League Group F with a trip to Olympiacos. Speaking in Athens ahead of the game, the Ghanaian-born youngster revealed why he had believed he may struggle at the Club he joined as an eight-year-old shortly after arriving from Africa.
“I knew I would come back to play football [after the injury] but I felt I would never get the chance at Arsenal again,” he said.
“I had my chance and things were going well then I got my injury. At that time there were [other] players who were injured and I thought that they would be fit when I got back. You had Song, Diaby and Ramsey all injured.
“[I thought] by the time I was back all these players would be fit so I didn’t think I would get a chance.
“But in football you can’t predict anything. I came back and I carried on from where I left off. Now I have to continue to play well to force the issue of playing in the first team. That is all I can do.
“I worked really hard to get my fitness back. I still don't believe I am 100 per cent fit yet but hopefully when I am I can show that to the fans and give more to the team. At the moment I’m just happy to be out there and it's a pleasure to be playing with these great players at the moment.”
Frimpong has impressed this season already and Tuesday will be another massive opportunity. The atmosphere is expected to be intense at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium but the 19-year-old will not be intimidated.
“When you are a professional footballer you want to play in those kinds of stadiums and environments,” he commented. “As I've said, Tuesday is going to be a test of character not only for me but for other players in the squad. But we're playing for Arsenal Football Club so we should be able to deal with those kinds of atmospheres.”Copyright 2013 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 5 Dec 2011