Eddie Nketiah responds to Thierry Henry pressure after "unbelievable" Arsenal shirt swap

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah is determined to leave his own stamp on the iconic No. 14 shirt at the Emirates Stadium.

The Hale End academy graduate, 23, signed a new contract in North London last week, with his previous deal set to expire this summer. Alongside his extension, Nketiah was also handed a fresh squad number as he swapped from 30 to 14 – a legendary number previously worn by Highbury hero Thierry Henry.

Some have criticised this decision given Nketiah’s track record in front of goal, with former Tottenham star Jamie O’Hara claiming that it was “unbelievable” before Laura Woods silenced his claims.

“I can’t believe he’s getting number 14,” O’Hara said of Nketiah on talkSPORT. “I mean it just sums up really where Arsenal are right now. Spurs are buying all these great players, we’re flying high, we’ve got Champions League football.

“And they’re giving a player who didn’t even want to be at the football club, all the fans said he wasn’t good enough, he had decent end to the season, and they’re giving him Thierry Henry’s shirt. It’s unbelievable. It’s magic for us right now.

“Spurs fans are sitting there, I’ve got text messages from me mates. Thierry Henry’s shirt, Eddie Nketiah. Fair play to him, it shows the belief he’s got but come on, come on. You can’t give him Thierry Henry’s shirt. What are you doing?”

© Getty Images Eddie Nketiah

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Despite the criticism he has faced before donning the No. 14 shirt in anger, Nketiah has made it clear that the significance of the number is not lost on him – from a personal and team viewpoint – and expressed his determination to live up to supporters’ expectations.

Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph, he said: “It’s an important number. It means a lot to me. I joined the club at the age of 14. I wore 14 on loan at Leeds, and I even lived at No. 14 at one point.

“When the opportunity came up to take it, it was hard to say no. I know what it means to the club and the fans. It’s a nice feeling, an iconic number.

“We know it is a special shirt and Thierry has made it cool to wear this shirt, just like he did with long socks and gloves. It is what we have grown up with. But I am just trying to be the best version of myself. I’m focused on creating my own memories, leaving my own stamp on it.

“You still have to deliver. There is always going to be pressure, whether you are wearing number 30, or 14, or whatever, because that is what comes with playing for Arsenal.”

Whilst Nketiah will no doubt be keen to enjoy a bright start to life with his new number, he will also be eager to extend the form he displayed at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. He scored five goals in the last seven Premier League games of the season, although Arsenal faltered in their fight for a Champions League place.

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