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Nelson: You have to be ready when the call comes

5 Sep 2018
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Eighteen-year-old talks about his rapid rise to first-team football at Arsenal

For Reiss Nelson, playing for Arsenal was a dream that became a reality at only nine years of age.

Having been at Tottenham Hotspur, Nelson was scouted by the club he and his family supported. So he was full of pride when he was able to put on the club colours for the first time.

"The feeling is incredible," Nelson says in the video above. "Even to put on the little training kit when I was nine years old.

"I couldn't believe I was actually there. It just felt like I was dreaming because that's what I wished for as a young kid as well."

Nelson was playing Under-18s football from the age of 14 and broke into their Premier League 2 team in 2016/17.

The next season he starred at Under-23 level, winning the Premier League 2 Player of the Season as Arsenal won the PL2 Division 1 title.

He also made 16 appearances for the senior team, including his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace in January 2018.

After signing a long-term deal with Arsenal last week, Nelson went on a season-long loan at Hoffenheim for the next stage of his development.

His journey to first-team football is one that more than 500 Academy youngsters at the Under-9 Welcome Festival in Warwick this Sunday will be looking to emulate.

For those boys about to embark on the first tournament in the Premier League Games Programme, Nelson advises that they should be prepared to take their chances because they may come sooner than they think.

"It's crazy," he says. "It's something you don't expect when you're that young and also time flies, because at that age you think everything is just like all sway and you take time for granted maybe.

"But, it comes very soon and you've got to be ready for that."

Also in this series

Part 1: Nelson: My chance came from hard work
Part 3: Festival 'makes you feel like a first-team player'

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