Saturday 19 May 2012

Hoping Nabay is no Coyne or Pennant if he joins Arsenal

According to Sky Sports, we’re in the running to sign Birmingham City’s Foday Nabay. Last year, the Sierra Leone-born youngster got called up to England’s U16s. That’s no mean feat and can spell one of two things: either this kid is exceptionally gifted; or he’s exceptionally big, strong and well developed for his age. I’ve lost count of how many strong youngsters who have done a lot in the early teens because of their build or size and then have suddenly stopped growing.

I remember a young striker called Peter Coyne, who couldn’t stop scoring for England’s youth team in the 1970s. He was at Manchester United and what could possibly go wrong? Well, after just two first-team games and just one goal, his contract was cancelled. He then slipped into the anonymity of the non-league with Alan Ball’s old club Ashton United, but at least he ended up scoring a lot of goals for Swindon and Crewe later in his career and even had a spell with the LA Aztecs. Still, it was a case of unfulfilled potential.

To some extent it was the same with Jermaine Pennant. I was so excited when we signed him from Notts County. £2m was a record fee for a teenager, but twelve league games in six years at Arsenal was hardly a decent return. Despite his off-the-field problems, Pennant has gone on to have a decent career in the top flight. He should have had senior England caps to add to his U21 appearance though.

Let’s hope, if we do get Nabay he manages to do a lot better than Pennant and Coyne.

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