Born: December 21, 1995
The coaching staff at Arsenal have high hopes for 16-year-old left back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, and Arsène Wenger has already had a chance to assess the youngster at close quarters.
Having made his under-18 debut in a 5-0 mauling of Portsmouth in January, Brandon found himself mixing it with the first team a month later.
Cameras filming the training session before the away game to AC Milan last season caught a glimpse of the youngster going through his paces with our Champions League squad. An achievement indeed given that he was still a schoolboy at the time, but you will not find the modest youngster making too much of achieving such a milestone so early.
“The highlight for me so far is the Club, my school and my parents agreeing for me to leave school a year early and joining Arsenal full-time at the beginning of last season,” says the south Londoner. “I know that it does not happen often and I am so grateful for that opportunity, which allowed me to apply myself fully to becoming a footballer.
“I am now a first-year scholar but it is a massive advantage for me to have already been at Shenley for a year as I am familiar with my surroundings and routine,” says Brandon. “But that has not made pre-season much easier. I still wanted to do nothing else but get home and go to sleep for the first few days!”
Brandon was first spotted as a seven-year-old playing for Croydon FC by Gunners scout Ken Fisher. “He watched the game and then spoke to my dad asking if I would like to have a trial with Arsenal. After a six-week spell I was signed. It was a great feeling and I have benefitted from top coaching at Hale End ever since.”
The youngster admits being a Chelsea fan at the time, but he knew Arsenal were the club to join. “The Club is world renowned for producing top-quality young players and even then I knew Arsenal was the best place for me to develop as a footballer.
“I played as a striker or a left winger at the time, but I think that by the time I was in the under-11 team, I had become a left back and that’s where I have stayed. I believe it’s a role that suits me best. I am comfortable with the demands of getting up and down the line and I enjoy the fact that the job means you are always involved, whether it’s in defence or attack.
“I am always looking to improve and am especially looking to develop my defensive game. I look to Ashley Cole in particular. In my opinion he is now the best left back in the world and I admire his tenacity the most. He is known for his attacking abilities, but he’s so determined in defence and that’s what I’m building into my game.”
The England youth international has a sweet left foot and his crossing ability is perhaps why he was drafted to join the first team in training - but he firmly believes in a work ethic: “I am motivated to work hard to make every part of my game better” he explains. “You can never stop improving and all of us at Arsenal are inspired by the first team, who are world class players but still put in the hours practising after training.”
Brandon’s target this year is to become a regular in the under-18s and then make an impression in the under-21s. “I made my debut in the under-18s against Portsmouth in January and had a decent game, but I then picked up a back injury that kept me out for a while so this year I’m looking to get a run of games early on," he said.
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Which school did you go to?
Thomas More, Purley
When did you first play for Arsenal?
For the Under-9s
Brothers and sisters?
Four brothers and one sister
Best friend in football?
Have you represented your country?
What other sports are you are good at?
Athletics and table tennis
Singing and impressions
In your dreams…
Who plays you in a film?
Marvin from JLS
Who are you stuck on a desert island with?
Who do you record a single with?
What meal can you eat every day?
What show is always on TV?
Match of the Day
Where in the world would you live?
London and Los Angeles
Which footballer teaches you all of their skills?
Give us a mark out of ten for the following aspects of your game:
Right foot - 7 Left foot - 9 Heading - 6 Passing - 8 Shooting - 7 Tackling - 7 Vision - 8