Young Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo has spoken about an ‘unreal experience’ in north London which remains ‘one of the best feelings’ in his life.
The 20-year-old, a former England U18 international, came through Arsenal’s academy setup. He gained promotion to Mikel Arteta’s first team in July 2021 and is now third in the pecking order.
Arteta’s first choice is Aaron Ramsdale, with Bernd Leno his current backup. Okonkwo is on hand to feature if either, or both, of those players pick up injuries.
Okonkwo has made 19 appearances for the Gunners’ U23 side, keeping five clean sheets. However, he is yet to make his senior Arsenal debut.
The London-born shot-stopper could have left Arsenal when his contract was expiring towards the end of last season.
But he went on to pen a new deal at the club, which will keep him at the Emirates until 2024. During an interview with Goal, Okonkwo spoke about how this was ‘one of the best feelings’.
“Signing for the first team with the club I had grown up supporting was just an unreal experience,” Okonkwo said.
“Every young player dreams of one day getting to the first team, so it was one of the best feelings of my life. I don’t think a lot will ever top that feeling.”
Okonkwo is learning from Ramsdale and Leno, as well as Arsenal’s first-team coaches.
“I’m a completely different goalkeeper now than I was in pre-season,” he added.
“Being in and around the first team every day, you improve not only as a keeper, but as a person.
“You learn how to communicate better, you understand your environment better.
“I’ve obviously also had a few games with the Under-23s, so it’s all been really positive for me and I’ve seen a huge improvement in myself in the games I’ve played in.
“Hopefully, next season, I will get more games and I’ll push on again.”
Keeper to push for transfer
Arthur Okonkwo is hoping to secure a loan move away from Arsenal next season, so he can pick up more experience. Once he returns though, his future goal is to win trophies with Arsenal.
“Going out and getting some senior football will be very important to my career and future,” the starlet admitted.
“Getting loads of games will prepare me for one day hopefully being No.1 and playing in the Premier League. That’s my goal.
“Then, my future goal is winning trophies. But it’s all in stages.
“I just have to keep working every day, staying focused and, hopefully, in time, it will come together.”