Eddie Nketiah says he is comfortable tapping up Harry Kane for tips this week now they are not on opposite sides of the north London divide. The in-form Arsenal forward is celebrating his first England call-up in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the games against Ukraine and Scotland.
And whether he makes it on to the pitch or not, he is determined to continue his progress by learning off England’s leading goalscorer.
“Harry Kane is a world class striker. Today was my first session but I’m sure I’ll be in his ear all week – getting tips and learning,” said Nketiah, the leading scorer for England’s U21s.
“It is another great opportunity to come away, learn and and improve yourself and see what other top strikers do, how they prepare for games.
Now that he has made the move over to Bayern Munich from Spurs, I think it now makes the conversation a little bit easier. But he’s a fantastic player, and I wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
Nketiah has had to bide his time for senior recognition and by his own admission could have been forgiven for believing his moment might never come.
Having started with Chelsea aged nine, Nketiah had to deal with being released at 16 – interestingly two years after current Arsenal and England teammate Declan Rice went through the same confidence draining process.
Yet while Rice rose confidently through the ranks at West Ham, Nketiah continued to be battered by head winds at Arsenal, cast in a permanent role as understudy and farmed out for an underwhelming loan spell with Leeds in 2019-20 which hardly took him far away from England’s radar.
“I think (being released) gives you an awakening and just knowing that things can change like that – that you can lose everything you have worked for,” he said.
“I had to deal with a big setback but it makes you resilient. I know what it feels to be at the bottom and be out and I don’t want to be back there. It gives you that extra bit of motivation and resilience when times are hard. I’m able to dig a level deeper than maybe some people can or don’t want to go into.
“It’s all part of the experience. Some boys might not have experienced it but then they will have had lows in their careers. This was my journey and it has helped me by who I am today.”
Two goals in four games for Arsenal – grabbing the chance offered by Gabriel Jesus’s injury and repaying Mikel Arteta’s faith – has hauled him back into that England reckoning. The text confirming his selection was a moment that may have been predicted by Gunners’ teammate Bukayo Saka, but it still took Nketiah by surprise.
“It was a bit emotional,” he said of receiving the call up with his family and friends. “It was a pleasant surprise but one I have been working hard for not just this season but throughout the years. But step by step you get closer and closer.”