Hector Bellerin says Eddie Nketiah is humble and professional and thinks the Academy graduate can cope with the sudden attention thrust upon him so long as he focuses on taking the next step in his career.
The 18-year-old striker came off the bench to score a match-winning brace against Norwich in the Carabao Cup; a performance which now sees him knocking on the door of the first team.
Reflecting on his own journey from unknown to regular first team member, Bellerin noted that the pressure can be hard to deal with at first.
“First of all, I am really happy for him,” Bellerin, who watched Tuesday’s game from the stands, told Arsenal Player.
“He’s a great kid, he trains really well every time that he comes up to the first team. He is very professional and humble, and it’s nice to see players like that who, when they are given a chance to show what they are capable of, are able to change the game from 1-0 down to 2-1 up.
“I think that’s unbelievable and sometimes God gives you those chances and it is up to you to take them. I am happy for him because I can only imagine the feeling he had when he had the whole stadium chanting his name after just a few minutes.
“[That sudden rush of attention] is quite hard to deal with. I went down to the dressing room and he was on his phone and he must have got messages from friends and on social media. It must be quite hard in the first moments to [deal with that].
“The best way to do it is to think that this is just the start. Some people think that it is the end but it is the other way around: it is just the start of your professional career and you have to handle it properly and realise that it is not always like that.
“There will be ups and downs. It is important that you keep humble, keep working hard and see it as the first step on a long journey.”
Wise words from Bellerin. He’s certainly someone who had to bounce back from a difficult start to life in the first team. Few would have thought he’d make the grade at Arsenal after one particularly difficult evening away at Borussia Dortmund in 2014.