Eddie Nketiah at Chelsea release with Declan Rice and not accept Gabriel Jesus back up

Proving people wrong is something Eddie Nketiah is used to by now. When Gabriel Jesus went down injured in Brazil’s World Cup clash with Cameroon, many questioned whether Hale Ender would be able to lead the line and keep Arsenal’s title hopes alive. With five assists in nine starts, he more than answered them before his own injury limited his run in the side.

Silencing doubters is a habit the 24-year-old has had to do from almost the beginning of his career. At just 14, he was released from Chelsea’s academy. It was only a brief setback in his fledgling career, but the disappointment Nketiah felt is something he admits was still hard to take.

“As a 13/14-year-old boy, especially when you’re used to doing something… You go to Chelsea every other day, you’re known as the boy who plays for Chelsea,” he says. “It’s part of your identity.

“Accepting that being away is hard to take. Fortunately for me I have a great family around me who have always supported me and I think what was really good for me was that the distance between being released and having an opportunity to go to Arsenal was not too long.

“It was probably four or five days, so it allowed me to not be down too long and be able to refocus and know that there’s another challenge that can be even more beautiful. That’s how I looked at it. I had to have a lot of maturity, I had my down days.

“It’s your dream, to be scouted, you’re accepted, grow a part of the academy, you want to go all the way. But sometimes this is life. I’m a very religious person, I believe in God. I know everything happens for a reason.”

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Released on the same day was none other than Nketiah’s future Arsenal teammate Declan Rice. It has taken a decade for the pair to reconnect, but Nketiah believes the early disappointment the pair suffered has been key to getting them where they are now in their careers.

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