Nwaneri's dreams come true by turning pro

Having waited for so long for the day he officially could become a professional footballer, Ethan Nwaneri admitted the moment he put pen to paper fulfilled a dream come true.

After turning 17 last week, Ethan could finally sign a pro contract and the midfield was delighted to commit his future to a club he’s spent over half of his young life at already, having joined our academy aged nine.

And having been a Gunner all that time and rising all the way to first-team level, he admits he feels that the club and everyone in it has fostered a family feel he was desperate to remain part of.

“I’m delighted to have finally got to this stage after all the hard work over so many years,” he said. “It’s a proud moment for me and my family to finally be here, so I’m happy and ready to keep working.

“It was the dream to get to this stage. I’ve always thought about when this day would come and I’ve been looking forward to it, so I’m happy it’s finally here. I didn’t have to think about it - this is my family and it feels like home here. Everyone’s like a family together and they care about everyone. It feels so special to me here. 

"All the people around me have helped me get better as a person, and definitely helped me develop as a player on the pitch. The opportunities from Mikel, all the under-21 coaches, under-18s coaches - they’ve all helped me develop so I’m grateful to them.”

Ethan came to prominence when he became the youngest-ever player to appear in the English top-flight when he came on against Brentford in September 2022 aged just 15 years and 181 days, and played a key role in helping our under-18s reach the FA Youth Cup final last term.

Since then he has made one more Premier League appearance as he continues to develop, and he is enjoying mixing academy matches with training with our star players that he wishes to emulate in the years to come now his future is secured.

On his aims, Ethan added: “I want to keep pushing towards the first-team, gain as much experience as I can from the players in the first-team, and score as many goals as I can in whatever game I’m playing in and just keep pushing. I’m just going to keep working and do my best when I get opportunities given.”

Hear more from Ethan by watching the full interview above

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