With victory all but assured, the Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta winks at the substitutes’ bench. Changes were afoot, history would be made.
In the 92nd minute, schoolboy Ethan Nwaneri replaced Fabio Vieira to become, at 15 years and 181 days, the youngest player to have played in an English Premier League match. He is also the first 15-year-old to feature in an EPL game.
Arsenal fans welcomed the teenager’s appearance, chanting: “He goes to school tomorrow morning.”
The midfielder eclipsed the record set by Harvey Elliott, who now plays for Liverpool, when he appeared for Fulham aged 16 years and 30 days in 2019.
Nwaneri is an attacking midfielder who impressed at the Under-21s and was promoted to the Arsenal first team after the team suffered a series of injuries. Such was the speed of his promotion, he doesn’t yet have a profile on the first team page of the club’s official website.
Born in 2007, the midfielder wasn’t even alive when Arsenal moved into their new Emirates Stadium 16 years ago.
He made his U18 debut aged 14 and scored. Last month I scored for England Under-17s after coming off the bench.
Arteta said after the match: “He has trained with us several times and I had the feeling yesterday (Saturday) that if the opportunity arose I would.
“I think it sends a strong message about who we are as a club. I told him he would be with us and he had to be ready. He’s ready. When he continued I said: “Congratulations and enjoy.”
Former England captain Gary Lineker tweeted: “Ethan Nwaneri, 15, has joined @Arsenal. Luckily it’s an early start so he can do his homework after the game.
Arsenal returned to the top of the league with the 3-0 win over Brentford thanks to goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Vieira.