Eddie Nketiah believes his release from Chelsea as a teenager provided him with resilience as the forward prepares to make a potential England debut this weekend.
Nketiah has earned a first call-up to the senior England squad for this month’s internationals and could debut during the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine on Saturday.
The 24-year-old – who is England’s record scorer at u-21 level – has been rewarded for a strong start to the season at Arsenal, who he joined following his release from the Chelsea academy aged 14.
Nketiah believes that setback provided him with added motivation and resilience to make it as a professional.
“I think it did,” Nketiah said at an England press conference.
“I was there from the ages of nine and 14 and it came as a shock to me because I was doing well at the time. It gives you an awakening knowing that things can change like that – that you can lose everything you have worked for.
“It gives you that extra 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. It’s all part of the experience. Some boys might not have experienced it but then they will have had lows in their careers. This was my journey and it has helped me be who I am today.”
Nketiah has had to compete with Gabriel Jesus for a role at Arsenal, but has scored twice in three Premier League starts so far this season. The forward said there is more to his game than just goals however, as he now looks to challenge Harry Kane and Callum Wilson for a place with England.
“Naturally I have always had more to my game than just goals,” he said. “When you score goals it is a really important role, but I think with the consistency and the games I have been getting, I have been allowed to showcase more sides to my game.
“Working under a manager like Mikel [Arteta] tactically makes you so much better, you understand your role as a striker is so much more than what you have to do around the box. I think I have definitely improved.”
Read – Nketiah opens up on Thierry Henry advice after England call-up
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