Ethan Nwaneri of Arsenal made history on Sunday when, at the age of 15 years and 181 days, he became the youngest player ever to play in the Premier League.
The youngster surpassed Cesc Fabregas as the youngest player ever for Arsenal in all competitions and also Harvey Elliott of Liverpool as the youngest in the history of the league.
Ethan was included in Arsenal’s 16-Man PL squad for the first time and made the record-shattering debut in added time against Brentford, who were trailing 3-0.
Nwaneri was born to Nigerian parents on March 21st, 2007, in England.
Given that he has already represented England’s U16 and U18 teams, he holds English citizenship rather than Nigeria’s.
He is, however, still permitted to play for the Nigerian squad, should he make that decision at an older age.
Few 14-year-olds had a chance of qualifying for the U18s, but that wasn’t the case with Ethan Nwaneri, who was already turning heads at a higher level than his contemporaries.
Nwaneri began the 2022–23 campaign as an under-18 player for Arsenal, but due to his performance, he was swiftly promoted to the team’s under-21 squad.
In 4 league games this year for the U18s and U21s, Nwaneri has 4 goals and assists.
Manager Mikel Arteta was prompted to include him in first-team practice following his results for the development team.
After making just one appearance in the 2022–23 Premier League 2, he began practising with the first team in September and was on Sunday selected for his first senior squad, where he came on as a substitute for Fábio Vieira, Arsenal’s goal scorer in the match.
He’s not the tallest man on the pitch, standing at 1.65 Metres, but he will definitely be standing the tallest when he goes back to class – which he has to do considering he still hasn’t given his GCSE exams.
Due to his age, Ethan was not even permitted to change in the locker rooms with the senior team.
This undoubtedly didn’t ruin the team’s spirit, though, as goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale made a point of urging the young player and pushed him to go to the away end and accept his ovation from the visiting fans when the Arsenal team thanked the crowd after the game.
When some questioned the motives of Arteta, assuming that he made this substitution just to get a record, Ian Wright came to his defence and said that “They (Arsenal) are not going to bring people in just for the sake of it. They think very highly of him.”
With the players now entering the big leagues, he can expect a huge rise in his salary too.
Club academies can register players as young as 9 years old but these kids are not paid.
The club can support the family in some non-financial ways and can also offer education scholarships worth £4-7k.
A player can officially enter into a contract at age 17.
And English academy contracts are astronomically higher than in other countries.
Raheem Sterling signed a contract worth £30k a week on turning 17.
It will be interesting to see what kind of salary Ethan Nwaneri earns when he turns of age.
Arsenal already have the youngest squad and the youngest in the league, and with the addition of 15-year-old Ethan, they are definitely building a team for the future.