'I am hungry for more' - Nketiah on overcoming set-backs, beating Shearer's record and wanting to progress at Arsenal

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Eddie Nketiah England U21 2020
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The Gunners striker has faced rejection in his career, but it has led to a tough mentality that allows him to cope with the pressure at the top

The main story hanging over England Under-21s match with Turkey wasn't whether Aidy Boothroyd's side could qualify for the European Championship next summer, but that Eddie Nketiah was only one goal away from beating Alan Shearer's scoring record at that level.

Already on 13 goals for the campaign and joint-top scorer in the qualification stage, the Arsenal striker played with the spotlight firmly on him.

It wasn't a masterclass performance, despite the star power on show, and Nketiah's penalty miss could have seen his opportunity to break the record gone. Still, the 21-year-old kept plugging away and got his goal with a chipped finish over the goalkeeper after a Ryan Sessegnon through ball.

Ironically, the match was a snapshot of Nketiah's career which has seen him overcome setbacks to reach Mikel Arteta's first-team. He pointed towards the challenges he has faced, like being released by Chelsea aged just 16, as giving him the character to take on in-game hardships.

"A lot of the boys might have thought the chance had gone when I missed the pen but I just stayed calm and I knew another chance would come if I kept working and kept my head up," Nketiah said about reaching the landmark.

"I am mentally tough; I have faced a lot of adversity in my life and overcome it. Football is like that as a game, it isn't always going to go your way and I have learned how to deal with that. I take pride in the chances falling to me and having the job of converting.

"It is a double-edged sword when it doesn't come off; you have to be able to take it and get up and go again. That's what I always do, whether I score or miss, I will always put myself in the position for the chance and I want to have the opportunity to get that chance again.

"I showed my mentality today to keep going and when it did come my way, I tucked it away. It did come my way and I think it was quite a cool finish from myself and I was thankful for the great ball that Sess played me. It is a great feeling to win, qualify and break a record."

Unless Gareth Southgate takes Nketiah from the Under-21s, he will lead the line for Boothroyd's Young Lions this summer. That seems to be highly likely, but with a host of big names arriving at Arsenal this summer, the youngster needs to continue impressing for his club.

Having beaten Newcastle and England legend Shearer and his scoring record, he now wants to take that form into the Premier League. Nketiah is hoping that there's more to come from this season after a bright start for club and country.

Eddie Nketiah quote GFX

"I would love to get to where Shearer was, He is a great player and it is an honour to break his record," Nketiah said, before discussing what he wants from his time at the Emirates Stadium. "I think I have started well, it is still early days and I think there's a lot more in me. I am looking to progress; it is about becoming the best player I can be.

"I am grateful with the opportunities that Mikel has given me so far and I am hungry for more. I am eager to kick on and keep contributing to both teams to play as many games as possible.

"The Euros is something to look forward to but I have to make sure I am doing well at my club and keeping performing, doing well and pushing myself as a player, then everything else will fall into place."

Not only is Nketiah the top scorer in his team but he is also the captain, which is a responsibility that he says he enjoys. For Boothroyd, he has become an important figure in the group and the manager wants to see his London-born striker push to the next level.

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"I am hoping he gets a run in Arsenal's team," Boothroyd said. "It looks like Mikel likes to rotate his strikers and I am sure Eddie is going to get league experience, get European experience and play in big games or part of them.

"The more of that he gets, the better player he will become for us and the more pressure he puts on us to make sure that he is pushing towards the senior team like they all want to do.

"He has got a lot of gifts and it is about honing those and bring consistency to his game. He tends to put his chances away which is a nice habit to have in any team."

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