By Rob Kelly
It may have been nearly three weeks ago, but Jernade Meade is only coming back down to earth now.
Making his first-team debut was always going to be a moment that would live with the 20-year-old forever. But for it to happen during that incredible Capital One Cup victory over Reading took the experience to a whole new level.
“It was ridiculous!” Meade told Arsenal.com. “To win 7-5, having been 4-0 down, was just ridiculous! It was a day I’ll never forget.
“It was such a great experience - what a game to come into! At 4-0 down, I was thinking that it could only get worse but the team showed great belief to get back into the game. It was an amazing night.”
It was a moment the versatile left back had dreamed of for years, a moment he had worked for ever since joining the Club at the age of 11. But having been included in the 18-man squad for the game at the Madejski Stadium, Meade had to wait just that bit longer to get his first taste of the action.
With the game still in the balance at a scarcely believable 5-4 in extra time, Meade finally got his chance in the 105th minute as he replaced a tiring Ignasi Miquel.
“I was nervous, but that is only normal,” he said. “My first touch was to play a long ball, but once I did that my confidence grew and I was ready to play and get on the ball.
“I thought I did the basics well, and even got a good cross into the box. I lost the ball once, which was sloppy, but I loved the whole experience. It was a day I will never forget. What a game, and it is in the history books now!”
Meade will be back in action for the under-21s on Monday evening as they travel to Norwich, and could even get a chance on the left wing again. But much like Ashley Cole and Kieran Gibbs before him, it seems Meade is being converted into a full back.
“I don't mind playing at left back,” he said. “I am quite an attacking player and can get forward and also get back - I am quite good at defending as well.
“In the first team I don't mind being a left back but if I went elsewhere I would probably see myself as a left midfielder.
“It seems to always happen here that they transform you. It is an Arsenal thing. The boss knows what he is doing, just look at Ashley Cole: he is the best left back in the world now. And obviously Kieran is also doing really well, so you can see why they have been moved back.”
Having got a taste for first-team football, Meade is desperate for more - starting with the Capital One Cup quarter final against Bradford next month.
“Hopefully I will get my opportunity there, I’d love to get a start,” he said. “I really want another call up for the first team, and maybe then I will go out on loan after Christmas and get some more experience.”
He may gain more experience, but it is unlikely that anything will rival that unforgettable October night in Berkshire.
- Follow @ArsenalLive for live tweets from the under-21s’ match at Norwich from 6.55pm (UK time). Kick off is at 7pm.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.