Nwaneri, 15, becomes youngest Premier League player

Ethan Nwaneri
Nwaneri has been allocated the number 83 shirt at Arsenal

Fifteen-year-old Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest player in Premier League history in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Brentford.

The English attacking midfielder, who was born in March 2007, replaced Fabio Vieira for the Gunners in stoppage time at Brentford Community Stadium.

Aged 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri beat the record held by Harvey Elliott.

Liverpool midfielder Elliott was 16 years and 30 days old when he played for Fulham in 2019.

Nwaneri replaced Vieira, who had scored the third goal, after 91 minutes and two seconds. He was involved for three minutes and 42 seconds before the game ended after 94 minutes and 44 seconds.

He is the first player under the age of 16 to play in the Premier League.

“We have the opportunities to bring young players on,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta before the game.

“We are pretty short and opportunities come when issues arise.”

Nwaneri has made several appearances for Arsenal Under-18s and played for England Under-16s when he was 14.

Arsenal’s win over Brentford took them back to the top of the table following victories for Manchester City and Tottenham on Saturday.

Last week Northern Irish schoolboy Christopher Atherton became the youngest senior footballer in the United Kingdom aged 13 years and 329 days when he played for Glenavon.

Who is Nwaneri?

Nwaneri was born on 21 March 2007 after Emirates Stadium, the home Arsenal moved into after leaving Highbury, was opened in 2006.

He has quickly impressed during his time with the Gunners.

Aged 14, he marked his under-18s debut with a goal against Reading and followed it up with a number of eye-catching performances.

He had been expected to spend the season with the Under-18s but was quickly promoted to the Under-21s.

On 8 August, he scored in a 3-0 win after coming on as a substitute for England in an Under-17s game against the Faroe Islands.

Injuries to captain Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko had left Arteta short of midfield options against Brentford.

“It was a pure gut feeling,” added the Arsenal boss when asked about the moment he decided to send Nwaneri on.

“I met the boy and really liked what I saw. Per Mertesacker and the academy staff are giving me really good information, Edu as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us.

“Yesterday he had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin Odegaard, and then I had that feeling from yesterday that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it and I just did it.”

Arsenal fans will now be hoping he can continue his development and follow the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka to become a young star at the club.

18 Sept 2022ArsenalEthan NwaneriBrentford15 years 181 days
4 May 2019FulhamHarvey ElliottWolves16 years 30 days
13 May 2007FulhamMatthew BriggsMiddlesbrough16 years 68 days
4 May 2013 West Brom Isaiah BrownWigan Athletic16 years 117 days
23 May 2003Leeds UnitedAaron Lennon Tottenham 16 years 129 days

‘What a pat on the back’ – what they said

Former West Ham and Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is great to see but at 15 there is so much pressure to come with it and after it. We don’t want outside influences now to come in and to ruin the kid’s talent.”

Ex-Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live: “It is crazy, what a pat on the back for him. What a moment to do it at his age and to know you have to get your schoolwork done for Tuesday. Credit to him and to Arsenal for nurturing him.”

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Ian Dennis: “Becoming the youngest player in the Premier League, he’ll need to be nurtured and he’ll need to be humble. It’s about how he gets treated, not just by those around him, but also by the media. We can’t put too much pressure on the boy.”

Record breaker

Freddy Adu was aged 14 years and 306 days when he made his Major League Soccer debut for DC United in 2004.

Youngest player records across Europe include….

  • Luka Romero (15 years and 219 days) for Mallorca against Real Madrid in La Liga in 2020.
  • Kalman Gerencseri (15 years and 225 days) for Lens against Monaco in 1960.
  • Wisdom Amey (15 years and 274 days) for Bologna against Genoa in Serie A in 2021.
  • Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years and 1 day) for Borussia Dortmund against Hertha Berlin in 2020.

‘School in the morning’ – how social reacted

Dubois on Twitter: Nwaneri was 12 when COVID started & now he’s playing PL football.

Marcus: Nwaneri was born in the same month as Theo Walcott made his Champions League debut for Arsenal.

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