In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. This week we spoke to winger Jay Beckford.
I joined Arsenal from Leyton Orient a couple of years ago now. Although I was an Arsenal fan as a kid and lived in Crouch End, one of the teachers at my school had a son who was with Orient. I was ten years old when he took me to a trial there and after two weeks they signed me.
I started off as a striker but after a while I was moved to the wing, where I’ve played ever since. I mainly play on the right. I think it suits my game because I can use my pace, power and dribbling ability to run at defenders. If I had to say which player I’m most similar to in style I’d say Chelsea’s Willian. At Arsenal the player I look to learn most from is Alexis.
He not only has so much ability, but his work rate for the team is something I really admire and try to emulate. I was aware of Arsenal’s interest a couple of months before I joined. My dad told me there was interest and I was very excited about joining ‘my’ club. Arsenal and Orient came to an agreement, which at the time felt like it took forever, but I became a Gunner and started going to Hale End, which isn’t far from where I used to train with Leyton Orient.
I thank Leyton Orient for everything they did for me but inevitably, as a smaller club, the resources available to them don’t compare with what Arsenal have. There are more coaches, so you get more individual attention to detail. There’s a greater emphasis on technique and the players around you are also more technical. Also, the gym equipment and emphasis on athletic development, especially now I’m full time, is an area that’s understandably more advanced to what a club like Leyton Orient, with fewer resources, had available to them. All combined, it helps accelerate and refine players and I feel the benefit.
So far this season we’ve played in a few friendly games, although early on the emphasis was on pre-season training, which was tough – a lot of running that took some getting used to! We travelled to Germany twice and played against Bayern Munich and Hamburg, which were both useful experiences, and I also played in a match against Crystal Palace. Now we’re all looking forward to a good season. I played more than 20 games last season and so it isn’t new to me, and I hope we will perform even better this year.
I’ve fully recovered from a ligament injury I sustained after a bad tackle in one game towards the end of last season and I’m ready to try to do well for the team, hopefully keep improving and perhaps get a chance to feature with the Under-23s. I feel that I need to improve my left foot and my heading, and to score more goals, which is a target I’ve set myself.
I’m now living in digs in St Albans, quite close to the training ground. I live with Josh Benson, who is also a team-mate and good friend. Our landlady Rachel looks after us and takes us to the training ground every morning so we have no excuse for being late!
I’m looking forward to today’s game. Liverpool have improved this year and added pace, which I felt they were short of last season. We’ve suffered a few injuries in defence that have made us light on experience, which I think will make for a very open game. I expect it to be an exciting game with lots of goals. I expect us to win, but it will be close. I can’t wait.
When did you join the Arsenal academy?2014.
What’s the best aspect of your game? I would say it’s my dribbling.
And what do you still need to work on? More end product.
Team supported as a boy? Arsenal.
Who did you pretend to be in the playground? Ronaldinho.
Which player would you most like to play against? Douglas Costa.
If you could score any goal from history... For England in the 1966 World Cup final.
Other sports you’re good at? Ice skating.
Greatest moment in your career so far? Being selected for England.
Best subject at school (other than PE)Science.
If you had to sing one song to save your life, what would it be?Drake, Forever.
Best sense of humour?Josh Benson.
Best at fifa? Robbie Burton.
Best engine? Josh Benson.
Best turn of pace? Nathan Tella.
Best ball skills? Emile Smith-Rowe.
Best with the ladies?! Robbie Burton.
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