EPL

Xhaka urges Arsenal to protect 'very, very special' Nwaneri

By Sports Desk September 19, 2022

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka called on the club and his team-mates to "protect" Ethan Nwaneri after the teenager made Premier League history.

Nwaneri became the youngest player to ever appear in the Premier League on Sunday as was introduced late on in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Brentford.

Aged 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri broke the record set by Harvey Elliott when he came on for Fulham at 16 years and 30 days old.

Nwaneri was included in Mikel Arteta's squad partly due to injuries and was introduced near the end with the Gunners in complete control.

An England youth international, Nwaneri had trained with Arsenal's first team "a couple of times", according to Arteta, whose decision to bring him on was a "gut feeling".

Nwaneri has understandably dominated headlines since his historic cameo, but the need to protect him and keep him on his current path was not lost on Xhaka, who had known of the player's talent having taken charge of Arsenal Under-16s training sessions.

"To have a guy who is 15, who is 15 years younger than me… he looks old when I see him but the club can be proud of a player like him," Xhaka told reporters.

"He has a big future. If I am honest, I am doing my coaching licence and I have trained the Under-16s: you can see a big difference with him and the other guys. He is very, very special.

"Of course, 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.

"I spoke with one Brentford guy and I told him this guy was 15 and he looked at me and said: 'F*** me, we are looking old!'

"So yes, of course, when you have 15 years difference you think: 'Okay the time is not gone but it is on the way'. But we are enjoying him, he is enjoying us as he has the quality.

"If I am honest, he is not with us a lot in training. I have maybe seen him twice or three times now. He is very shy, of course, but the time will come when he will be more with us, but you have to protect him and help him.

"Football is not everything for him and for us but yes, the club will help him and the experienced players have to help him."

Related items

  • Wiegman and Mead sickened by U.S. women's soccer abuse Wiegman and Mead sickened by U.S. women's soccer abuse

    Sarina Wiegman and Beth Mead warned the abuse suffered by professional women footballers is not just restricted to the United States.

    U.S. Soccer on Monday released the findings of the year-long investigation, led by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, after over 200 interviews had taken place.

    The report stated that over the nearly 10-year history of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), "numerous coaches have verbally or emotionally abused players".

    It also found that "several are alleged to have committed serious sexual misconduct during and/or before their time in the League".

    England, who won the women's Euros earlier this year, face the USA in a friendly at Wembley Stadium on Friday.

    At a press conference ahead of the match, Wiegman said: "My first reaction is that it’s horrible, unacceptable that it's still happening.

    "I feel very, very sorry for all the victims and it should stop immediately, I think we all agree on that.

    "I think it's a worldwide problem still and it’s just really the time now to all step up and stop these things. Whatever abuse it is, it's horrible and unacceptable."

    Mead echoed her manager's sentiment, insisting governing bodies must do more.

    "When I found out I was quite sickened by the situation. It's a worldwide problem but women need to be taken seriously a lot more," Mead said.

    "I'm very proud of the victims that stood up and said it. People need to start doing better, the US governing body needs to do better, worldwide we need to do better."

    Asked if the England team were planning a show of solidarity with their opposition on Friday, Mead added: "We're in contact with the American team and some of the players and we're working on something to show our support for them.

    "Nothing's been finalised yet, but we will be doing something."

    Mead and her England team-mates have made strides to push on the women's game in the country, with their European glory marking the nation's first major success since the men's team won the 1966 World Cup.

    "I would say so, we feel like we've got a good platform to make a difference," Mead, who scored 20 goals and assisted 17 in 19 matches for England in the 2021–22 season, replied when asked if the team felt empowered to make their voices heard.

    "We wrote the open letter about P.E. in schools for girls and we want to use our platform for the greater good of the women's game and women's sport in general. It's something we're more confident about but we also have the full support of the FA and everyone involved that helps a lot."

    Mead added it was "about time" for celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Lionesses, which will also take place at Wembley on Friday.

    "We know as players we wouldn’t be here today without the women that have come before us," she said.

    "[They're] incredible women. It's nice that we can celebrate what they've done just as much as we've done. It's nice that they've got a voice now."

  • Sampaoli returns to Sevilla as LaLiga club replace Lopetegui Sampaoli returns to Sevilla as LaLiga club replace Lopetegui

    Jorge Sampaoli has been appointed as Sevilla coach for the second time, with the former Argentina boss succeeding Julen Lopetegui.

    The 62-year-old, who was in charge of Marseille last season, was originally handed the top job at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in June 2016, succeeding Unai Emery.

    During his lone year at the club, he took them to a fourth-place finish in LaLiga, and the round of 16 in the Champions League.

    Now, he returns following Lopetegui's exit amid a dismal start to the 2022-23 season for Sevilla, with the club 17th in LaLiga and similarly adrift in Europe following a 4-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

    Sampaoli's immediate remit will be ensuring a swift turnaround in fortunes for the club, starting with this weekend's clash with Athletic Club. He has signed a deal running until the end of June 2024.

    A return trip to Dortmund will present an opportunity for Sevilla to potentially turn around their flagging fortunes in the Champions League.

  • Kane leads tributes to 'truly remarkable' coach Ventrone Kane leads tributes to 'truly remarkable' coach Ventrone

    Harry Kane has paid his respects to "truly remarkable man" Gian Piero Ventrone following the Tottenham fitness coach's death.

    Tottenham confirmed on Thursday that Ventrone, who joined the club last November as part of Antonio Conte's backroom staff, had passed away.

    Ventrone was nicknamed 'The Marine' because of his tough training sessions, yet he was well respected by Tottenham's players.

    Kane was among those to pay tribute to Ventrone on social media, saying he will forever be grateful for the advice received from the Italian.

    "A truly remarkable man. I'm devastated by the passing of our coach Gian Piero," Kane posted. "My love and strength is with his family at this time. 

    "His words and wisdom will live on with me for the rest of my life and I'm just grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with him. RIP Prof."

    Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Ventrone died on Thursday in Naples at the age of 62 after a battle with leukaemia.

    Ventrone spent a decade at Juventus and also worked for Catania, JS Suning, GZ Evergrande and Ajaccio, prior to reuniting with Conte in north London.

    He was credited with helping to drive a radical improvement in the Tottenham players' fitness, with forward Richarlison among those to benefit following his arrival from Everton.

    "Since I arrived at Tottenham, Gian has been a huge inspiration to me," the Brazil international said. "He always said that I would help him a lot during the season.

    "But who helped me was him... much more than he can imagine. Today we woke up to the terrible news of his passing and we are all devastated.

    "We will continue to play for you, my friend, who taught us to never give up! Thank you so much and rest in peace!"

    Ventrone had two stints at Juventus between 1996 and 1999 and 2001 and 2004, helping to shape the side that won the Champions League in the first of those spells.

    The Italian giants paid their own tribute on Thursday in a statement on their official website.

    The statement read: "We will always remember his attention to detail, his work philosophy, and perhaps his greatest talent, the understanding that football – and especially the fundamental components of conditioning and athleticism – was gradually entering a new era.

    "A new era that, in part, he helped write."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.