BY SAM SMITH AND ANDREW McSTEEN
Eddie Nketiah is hoping to inspire the next generation of South London-raised footballers after being confirmed as England captain for the U21 European Championships.
The Lewisham-born Arsenal striker is one of seven players included in the squad either born or raised in south London boroughs.
Others include Crystal Palace midfielder Ebere Eze, Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fulham twins Steven and Ryan Sessegnon, former AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Joe Bursik and Nketiah’s Arsenal teammate Emile Smith Rowe.
Nketiah played for grassroots side Hillyfielders FC before being picked up by Chelsea’s academy. He then moved to Arsenal, for whom he has made 60 appearances and scored 12 times.
His 16 goals in 14 caps make him England’s highest-ever goalscorer at U21 level. He will lead out Aidy Boothroyd’s side in Group D games against Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia this week.
“It’s good to see another South Londoner [in the squad], especially Lewisham first and foremost,” Nketiah told the South London Press. “I still remember those days, going to the park with Hillyfielders with my Dad. I just remember going there, enjoying it and doing well. So, it’s great to see the progression through when you look back at it.
“It makes me and my family very proud and hopefully there are kids in South London going to training that still can believe in seeing me, a boy from Deptford, Lewisham can go on and do well. That’s a big achievement for me, I always try to inspire a lot of people who can [make it] through hard work.
“It’s great to see the pathway from the grassroots throughout to where we are today and we’ve obviously still got more work to go.”
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