It has been quite a journey for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Having joined the club aged six, the midfielder admits there were times when he thought his Arsenal career might come to a premature end.
But a combination of the right attitude, hard work and his natural ability has seen him establish himself in the first-team squad. But when did he first realise that he could make it with us?
“It was when I was about 14,” Maitland-Niles told Arsenal Player. “I wouldn’t tip myself as one of the top players in my group back then, because I was so small and there were a lot of people who were [more] physically developed at my age and I was one of the smaller players.
“I sat down with my Dad and he said, ‘If you really want to progress then you need to start believing in yourself, believe in your ability because you have it there’. I started to watch game tapes and seeing things that i didn’t see in myself before.
“[At one point when I was younger] I was very close to being cut from Hale End. Liam Brady sat me down and said I had a lot to work on, so I just got my head down and worked hard on and off the field.
“It was my finishing at the time that made my coaches believe in me, and I had a lot of energy so I was always running up and down. I guess they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time.”
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