Eddie Nketiah pays tribute to mentors Ian Wright and Thierry Henry as he hails their influence on his career… with the Arsenal striker now hoping to make an impact for England
- Eddie Nketiah will have the advice of two Arsenal greats ringing in his ears
- Ahead of potential England senior debut, he hailed Ian Wright and Thierry Henry
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off
Eddie Nketiah will attempt to make an England impact this week with the words of two of Arsenal’s greatest strikers ringing in his ears.
Following a strong start to the season at club level, the 24-year-old has received his first senior call-up by Gareth Southgate for the forthcoming Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine in Poland on Saturday, followed by a friendly against Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday.
Nketiah’s journey to the top has not always been smooth yet his mentors are better than most. Both Ian Wright and Thierry Henry have taken a close interest in Nketiah’s career and he feels he owes them a debt of gratitude for making it this far.
‘Thierry has been magnificent for me,’ said Nketiah. ‘I was coached by him as a first-year scholar at Arsenal at 16 and it was amazing – one of my best and most enjoyable seasons.
‘I was able to bounce ideas off him and he gave me a lot of confidence. Still to this day when I see him he is still supportive and still really helpful.
Eddie Nketiah has hailed Thierry Henry and Ian Wright after his first senior England call-up
Arsenal striker Nketiah praised Henry (above) for instilling him with confidence as a youngster
Wright (left, with Nketiah during his loan at Leeds in 2019-20) has given the frontman advice
‘He came in and saw the quality I had when I was 16 or 17 and said that I just needed to believe in myself. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received. He knows what he’s talking about, so it’s not a bad feeling to hear that.
‘I wear No14 on my shirt, which is always a number I’ve liked but Thierry wearing it for Arsenal made it a lot more special. When the number was available and offered to me, I embraced it.
‘Ian Wright has also given me a lot of advice over the years and been supportive. I saw him at a photo shoot recently and we were talking about the start of the season, how well I have done. I am sure in time I will speak to him about playing for England too.’
Nketiah is one of a number of forwards attempting to claim the spot as first reserve to Harry Kane.
He is keen to learn as much as possible from the England captain and admits that his move to Bayern Munich from Tottenham has broken the ice a little.
‘It makes the conversation a little bit easier now he has made the move,’ smiled Nketiah. ‘I might have a few notes in my phone of what to ask him about.
After a strong start to the season at club level, Gareth Southgate named the ace in his squad
Nketiah is one of a number of forwards attempting to claim the spot as Harry Kane’s back-up
‘I’ve had my first session so I’m sure I’ll be in his ear all week – getting tips and learning. It’s another great opportunity to improve and see what other top strikers do, how they prepare for games.
‘It’s not just Harry. There are loads of great attacking players here. I can see what they do, notice the little things I do differently and try to steal a few things. It will be nice to experience.’
Like his new Arsenal team-mate Declan Rice, Nketiah was discarded by Chelsea as a youngster only to bounce back in north London.
He added: ‘It is funny how life works sometimes. Declan and I have done the full 360 to be back together.
‘Being released as a youngster gives you an awakening – just knowing things can change like that and you can lose everything you have worked for.
‘It gives you that extra bit of motivation and resilience when times are hard. I’m able to dig a level deeper than maybe some people can or don’t want to go into.’
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