In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. Next, we speak to midfielder Ben Cottrell.
Winning our first three games in the under-18s has helped create a really good atmosphere. We’ve gelled quite well already and I’m happy to have featured in all three games.
The first game was a 4-2 win over Aston Villa, who are always strong. That was satisfying, especially as we had a 14 year old ‘keeper in Remy Mitchell, who did really well and the team helped him gain confidence. I then came on as a sub in the 2-0 win away to Brighton and our 7-0 home win against Leicester. I’m really happy to be involved already and there’s a lot of competition in midfield.
This season I’ve been playing on either the left or right wing so, but for most of my time as a schoolboy I played in central midfield, although going back to when I was as an under-nine, I was actually a left back!
I was spotted by an Arsenal scout when I was playing for my Sunday side Parkfield FC. I was invited to a training session and then a trial at Hale End when I was signed. After starting as a full back we played a few small-sided games and I was asked to go into midfield and that’s where I stayed.
I’m now an attacking midfielder. I enjoy making and scoring goals but midfielders need to make a contribution defending and that comes naturally to me because of my time as a defender. But it’s an area I want to develop further. I like to learn from players like Steven Gerrard who could make and score goals but was phenomenal defensively too.
I like the look of Matteo Guendouzi, especially his all-action style and our other signing in midfield, Lucas Torreira, who is personally inspiring because I’m not the biggest and he gives me the belief that you do not have to be a six-footer to make it in the Premier League.
One of the two highlights of my career so far was being given a scholarship, the other was making my debut for England Under-16s against Romania. It’s an exciting time for me at Arsenal and for England. The change in philosophy has made the style of play more technical and exciting and that has also brought success at youth level and the senior side did well at the World Cup.
Being a full-time footballer has always been my dream and I’m living it now and have the chance to make it my career. Making the transition from schoolboy football did take some getting used to as we no longer have school to give us a break from training, but we’re used to that now. I feel really honoured that I’m at a club like Arsenal where I have the opportunity to be the best I can be. It’s a dream job.
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