Eddie Nketiah: First senior England call-up 'extra special' for Arsenal striker

Arsenal and England striker Eddie Nketiah poses for a photo at St George's Park
Eddie Nketiah has scored 34 goals in 136 games for Arsenal

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has said it feels "extra special" to be called up to the England senior squad for the first time.

Nketiah is the record goalscorer and ex-captain of the England Under-21s.

The 24-year-old has had to wait for a senior call-up since becoming too old to represent the U21s in 2021, having also opted against playing for Ghana.

"I'm really happy to be here, proud to be here and looking forward to helping the team," he said.

Speaking at England's training headquarters, St George's Park, Nketiah added: "Obviously I've been here a few times but it does feel different - it's extra special.

"You're mixing with great players, obviously a great manager as well. So just that sense of pride to be here, to progress through the age groups is obviously a nice feeling and to get here is a nice step."

Nketiah has begun the season well, starting three of Arsenal's four Premier League games and scoring two goals.

He believes his time playing for the under-21s and his club form will benefit him as he hopes to make his debut in either the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine in Poland on Saturday, or in the friendly against Scotland in Glasgow next week.

"I am playing for a great club and a big club at Arsenal," he said.

"These tough games will be a different and new experience but it is about doing as well as I can, showing my quality this week, and hopefully getting an opportunity to go out there and help the team.

"I am a much better player now than I was two or three years ago. It is really nice and I am coming in at a good time and a good moment.

"I feel confident and I feel ready to continue to improve - that is the thing, I am still young and humble enough to know I am not the finished article.

"Coming away with these players and being able to show my quality and learn from them is really good for me."

Nketiah is eligible to represent Ghana, the birthplace of his parents, and they were interested in handing him a senior cap.

However, the Arsenal forward says the call-up from England boss Gareth Southgate was "really hard" to turn down after being part of the country's pathway for so long.

"Both sides were always an option," Nketiah added.

"Naturally coming through the academy at England you have the aspiration to play here - once the call-up was there and the offer was on the table it was really hard to turn down, and something which I felt was a natural progression for myself at this stage."

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