“My debut was a great memory and it’s something that I’m always going to have. It was a great game with a great atmosphere and it was beautiful to get the win on penalties over there.”
Twelve months ago Hector Bellerin sprinted out onto the Hawthorns pitch, replacing Mikel Arteta in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup clash against West Brom to make his senior debut for the Gunners.
Fast forward a year and the Spanish right back couldn’t be better positioned to win his second appearance for the first team.
After impressing for the under-21s last season, the 19-year-old joined up with Arsene Wenger’s side for their pre-season friendlies against Boreham Wood and Monaco, as well as playing the full 90 minutes in the Gunners’ 5-1 thrashing of Benfica.
"This year all the players have played 21s for a long time together. We’re a team now. A proper team"
“I couldn’t ask for more,” Bellerin told Arsenal.com “I’ve been involved with the first team and I’m just working hard, trying to get there every week and that’s what it’s about. I’ll get my reward soon so I’ve got to keep working every day.
“Everyone in football knows that you are always going to have your rewards, what you’re looking for, and it’s not the end of it. It’s another beginning and I’ve just got to keep working hard and trying to get a chance.”
Bellerin was also named in Arsenal’s 20-man travelling squad to face New York Red Bulls alongside first-team regulars Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.
“I had a really good time,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve been to the States as well so I really enjoyed it. All the fans over there were amazing and to be just around the first team is a great experience for us. We trained with them every day and then got to play against Thierry Henry, the legend, so it was an amazing experience for us.”
Now Bellerin has set his sights on playing for Wenger’s side for a second time in the Capital One Cup, this time against Southampton at the end of September.
“All the under-21 lads are looking forward to the game,” the 19-year-old explained. “It’s definitely going to be a good game because they’re a Premier League side, so every lad is looking forward to it and working hard to see if we can get a chance and be in the squad.
“Last year we had a really young under-21 team but this year all the players have played 21s for a long time together. We’re a team now. A proper team, and we’ve showed that we want to play the ball, we want to win the games and obviously the first-team players coming in helps us a lot as well.”
Next up for Bellerin, though, is an away clash with Aston Villa in the Under-21 Premier League Division Two on Thursday night after the young Gunners beat West Brom 4-2 at the Emirates in their last game of August.
“It was a really good result and I think that the team played very well,” he said. “Defensively we made a couple of mistakes at the end of the game and we switched off because we were 4-0 up, so I think we need to keep working hard.”
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