Nico Yennaris admits that being struck down by glandular fever made him appreciate the importance of taking his opportunities.
The 19-year-old made a big impression when handed his chance in the first team last season, before moving on loan to Notts County in April to continue his education.
However, after two games the midfielder started to feel the effects of the illness that would prematurely end his spell at Meadow Lane.
“I was feeling really run down. I had no energy and didn’t feel at all well. The Notts County doctor sent me back to Arsenal for blood tests. It was discovered I had glandular fever,” Yennaris told the Official Matchday Programme.
“The Arsenal doctors and physios ordered bed rest and for me not to hurry back. I was so disappointed because I was hoping to play at least seven games for Notts County. I was also upset because it meant I would miss playing for England at the Under-19 European Championship in Estonia.
“In any event, I listened to them and rested as much as I could but in the back of my mind it felt like I was in a race against time to get back in time for pre-season. I did literally nothing but eat, drink and rest in April and May but I started to feel better in June and began some running.”
After working hard in pre-season, Yennaris has started the campaign strongly and says recovering from glandular fever has made him more determined than ever to succeed.
“I know players have struggled for a lot longer with glandular fever, so I feel lucky. But at the same time it has made me realise how fragile a career in football can be,” he said.
“Injury or illness can cut short anyone’s future and so it has re-emphasised to me how important every second of every training session or game is. I always give everything, but what I have been through is an additional incentive.”
You can read the full interview with Nico in the matchday programme for the Coventry match. Click here to subscribe
The Official Matchday Programme is now on iPad! Find out more
Join the conversation on Twitter: #AFCvCCFC
Please note that Gold Season Tickets are NOT valid for Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup third-round match against Coventry CityCopyright 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 26 Sep 2012