Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has revealed he had already been working with 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri before the youngster’s record breaking first-team debut on Sunday as part of studying for his own coaching badges.
At 15 years and 181 days, schoolboy Nwaneri smashed the previous record held by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott at 16 years and 30 days to become the Premier League’s youngest ever player.
Stepping up from the Under-16 ranks, Nwaneri had trained with the first-team squad in the days prior to facing Brentford to boost numbers due to injuries. But Mikel Arteta liked what he saw and then named the player in his matchday squad after glowing references from academy staff.
The Arsenal boss described it as a ‘pure gut feeling’ to select him.
Xhaka later revealed he was already working with Nwaneri.
“He looks old when I see him, but the club can be proud of a player like him. He has a big future. I am doing my coaching licence and I have trained the under-16s,” Xhaka said of the youngster.
“You can see a big difference with him and the other guys. He is very, very special. You have to protect him as he is very young but if he keeps going like this with his hard work, he has a big, big future.”