Throughout the season, we'll be catching up with our young Gunners to find out more about their route to our academy. This week, Amario Cozier-Duberry discusses his route through the academy, which culminated in an appearance against Juventus at Emirates Stadium back in December.
Football has always been a big part of my life, my earliest memories of it go back to when I would play in the park with my older brother and from there I just loved it. I’ve been an Arsenal fan since I was young and I looked up to players like Thierry Henry, whose one of the greatest to ever play the game. But I also looked up to Arjen Robben who had a wand of a left foot and had the unstoppable cut-inside move.
As most children do, I played throughout primary school and on weekends, I played for a Sunday League team called Chettle Court Rangers FC, and that’s where I began to develop my game and showcase my abilities. I was there from under-11s to around under-15s which is when I was offered a trial at Arsenal.
The club approached me after my team won a tournament in Enfield and my coach told me that a few clubs were interested and Arsenal was one of those teams. I was excited because I supported Arsenal and I could have never thought I’d have the opportunity to play for my boyhood club. However, I was also nervous as I had been on trials at other teams around London and they never took me in.
"Being at Arsenal is a dream come true, but I know that I’m in a very privileged position"
When I first arrived for my 10-week trial, I was in awe of the facilities at Hale End. Even wearing the kit was such a nice feeling and from then I knew this was the place for me. It actually took me a couple of weeks to adjust to the level I know I can play at because of how nervous I was but once I relaxed and told myself that I am here for a reason, I started to excel and really play well.
A standout moment during my trial was when I scored a right foot banger against Colchester United in the Floodlit Cup, all the boys were so excited and happy for me. Funnily enough, after that game, the coaches came and told me that they wanted to officially sign me and that capped off an amazing night. I continued to play at Hale End for two years before I got my scholarship to go play with the under-18s at London Colney.
It was a great feeling getting my scholarship because I knew I had something to go into once I finished my last term at secondary school. When I first arrived at London Colney, I was overwhelmed because I realised that I am now a step closer to the first-team. You see the players and coaches regularly which is still crazy because I’d be watching them on TV the day before, and then the next day you’re in the same environment as them at training!
One thing I’ve noticed is that as you progress through the age groups, there are so many more demands as they are preparing you for first-team football. I’ve played at under- 18s, under-21s, and first-team level. At each age group, you need to up your intensity and effort which is what I try to do each and every day.
"Being in and around the first-team has been an unreal experience and it’s allowed me to grow as a player"
Working with Jack Wilshere, Mehmet Ali and Mikel Arteta has been brilliant. Mikel and Jack both played and won trophies for Arsenal so they know exactly what it means, whereas Mehmet will give you all the tools and knowledge you need to succeed. All three are excellent coaches and I’m grateful to have them.
Being at Arsenal is a dream come true, but I know that I’m in a very privileged position, so my mindset is to stay focused and strive to become the next Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah or Emile Smith-Rowe – these are guys I look up to and they’re an example that there is a pathway there to the first-team from Hale End.
A big highlight of mine was when I got my professional deal. I was so happy but I was more delighted for my family because they’ve supported me so much and been my rock every step of this journey, so to see them proud of me was a surreal moment. Then making my home debut against Juventus was a dream come true. It’s something only a few ever get to do for Arsenal and to do it against Juventus, a team with a massive history, is a moment I’ll never forget.
Hearing my name through the speaker, the fans cheering, and having my family and friends there who have been so supportive of me, was so wonderful. What made it even sweeter was that I didn’t think I was going to come on, I was so nervous beforehand when I was warming up, my feet were numb but as I stepped on the pitch, I made a few decent passes which helped.
Being in and around the first-team has been an unreal experience and it’s allowed me to grow as a player because I am constantly put out of my comfort zone. The trip to Dubai really developed me as a player and to play against Lyon and AC Milan was an awesome opportunity. Everyone in the first-team have been brilliant but a special shoutout goes to Bukayo, Eddie, and Martin Odegaard who constantly encourage me.
My target for the end of the season is to continue working hard and progress as a player. Additionally, I really want to win the FA Youth Cup, and we are buzzing after the win against Watford. I was nervous when I stepped up for the first penalty, but I just knew I had to pick a spot and commit to it. The next game is at the Emirates, and I’m really excited to be back there in front of our supporters.
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