Eddie Nketiah: The rise of a young talent

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Edward Keddar Nketiah is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Arsenal and England U21 team.

Eddie (born 30 May 1999) was raised in Lewisham, London where he started his footballing career with Chelsea after being scouted at the age of nine while playing for South-east London Sunday team Hillyfielders.

He spent seven years with Chelsea’s academy from 2008 and was released in 2015.

Arsenal

Eddie Nketiah joined Arsenal academy in 2015 and represented the club at youth levels. In 2016/17 season, Nketiah scored 15 goals in 16 appearances for the U18 team while also scoring 12 goals in 26 appearances for the U23 side in the same season.

 

Arsene Wenger then called the young striker to join the senior team’s pre-season trip to Australia and China. He again called the England international to the senior team on 28 September 2017 for Arsenal’s Europa League match against BATE Borisov. He came on as a substitute one minute to the end of normal time for Joe Willock in a game where Arsenal won 4-2.

Nketiah made another appearance for the Arsenal senior team nearly a month later in a League Cup game against Norwich City coming on as a substitute in the 85th minute.  15 seconds later he scored an equaliser to send the game to extra time adding another one to win the tie for the Gunners.

A loan move to Augsburg in January 2019 was on the table but an injury to Danny Welbeck meant Nketiah had to stay at Arsenal. He scored his first Premier League goal at the last day of the season, 12 May 2019, against Burnley.

He was an unused player in Arsenal’s Europa League final against Chelsea in the 2018/19 season.

He started the 2019/20 preseason regularly involved in the first team and scored against Bayern Munich and Fiorentina in the friendlies.

Leeds United (loan)

On 8 August 2019, Nketiah joined Championship side Leeds United on a season-long loan on the deadline day. He requested the No.14 shirt as he idolised his former Arsenal youth coach and club legend Thierry Henry.  Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa described Nketiah as a ‘young important player in English football.’

On 13 August 2019, he made his debut for the club in the EFL Cup against Salford City scoring the first goal in their 3-0 victory. He then made his Championship debut a week later against Brentford scoring the only goal of the game to give Leeds the win.

Nketiah’s goalscoring form continued as he netted for his club on 27 August in an EFL Cup tie against Stoke which ended 2-2 in normal time but they lost 4-5 on penalties to Stoke.

After scoring his fourth goal of the season in a 2-0 win against Barnsley on 15 September 2019, Bielsa described Nketiah as a ‘complete player.’

Return to Arsenal

Nketiah was recalled to Arsenal after cutting his loan spell short with Leeds United. He was immediately placed in the starting lineup in Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round victory against Bournemouth.  He scored the second goal of the match to which Arsenal won 1-2 at the Vitality Stadium progressing to the fifth round.

Nketiah made his first start of the Premier League against Newcastle before later scoring in their next game against Everton. In the FA Cup fifth round against Portsmouth, Nketiah scored again with Arsenal winning by 2 goals to nil.

He then became regular in Arsenal’s starting lineup after Covid-19 hiatus and started in the 3-0 loss at the Etihad. He recieved the first red card of his career against Leicester City.

He picked up his first major medal of his career as Leeds won the English Championship. He made 19 appearances for them before he was recalled from loan and that was enough to earn him a medal.

Two weeks later, Nketiah lifted his first major trophy of his career with Arsenal , coming on as a substitute in the 82nd minute against Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley where the Gunners won 2-1.

International Career

Nketiah is eligible for both England and Ghana national sides at international levels. He made his international debut for England at the U18 level. He played against Saudi Arabia U19 on 22 March 2017 and scored the second goal for England as they won the game 2-0.

He scored a hatrick in their next match against Qatar as England won 4-0 stepping up his goal scoring form for England U19 in November 2017 as he netted four in the 2018 UEFA European U19 Championship qualifier against Faroe Islands.

On 18 May 2018, England’s U21 head coach Aidy Boothroyd called Nketiah to the team for the Toulon Tournament. He scored twice in the semi-final against Scotland and provided an assist for Keiran Dowell to score the winning goal against Mexico in the final.

In January 2019, the young striker reportedly turned down a call up to play for Ghana by James Kwesi Appiah. In September of the next year, Nketiah captained the England U21 team and scored a hatrick against Kosovo U21 in a 6-0 victory.

He equalled Alan Shearer’s goalscoring record of 13 for England U21 on 7 October 2020 in a 3-3 draw against Andorra and went on to break it with the second goal against Turkey at the Molineux Stadium in a 2-1 victory that secured England’s place in the 2021 UEFA European U21 Championship.

Honours

Arsenal

▪︎FA Cup Winner: 2019/20.

▪︎FA Community Shield: 2020

▪︎UEFA Europa League runner up: 2018/19

Leeds

▪︎EFL Championship: 2019/20

England U21

▪︎Toulon Tournament: 2018

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