Alex Iwobi could not believe his eyes when he saw Hale End’s redevelopment for the first time.
Unveiled at the start of the month, the academy now features a number of full-size pitches, including an exhibition pitch with the same Desso surface and dimensions as Emirates Stadium.
Iwobi graduated from Hale End after joining the club while still in primary school, and believes the new facility will be a big benefit for our next generation of talent.
“I haven’t seen it this year but I saw it last year when they were building, and even then it looked amazing,” he told the Arsenal Weekly podcast. “It looks so futuristic compared to when I was there. I’ve seen new buildings, new pitches, and it just looks amazing.
“Someone sent me a picture of my photo hanging up at Hale End. I thought, ‘That’s crazy because back in the day I was looking at Jack Wilshere and all the big players that have come through’.
“I wouldn’t want to say that I’m one of them because I’ve still got a long way to go in my career and things to prove, but I’m one who has graduated through this academy and it’s a crazy feeling.
“I didn’t have what they have now. I believe that I’m at the best I can be because every day I’m trying to work on my technique, my physical attributes, but the facilities they have now will definitely benefit them in the future. It’s not just about the football, but also the educational side as well.”