Who Are Ya?: Carl JenkinsonPosted: October 2, 2012
The two overbearing emotions I feel whilst witnessing the rise of ‘Corporal’ Carl Jenkinson, as dubbed by Alan Davies, are jealousy and pride. Pride because, in Sagna’s absence, after seven starts in a row in the League and Europe, Jenkinson has in Wenger’s words, ‘jumped from primary school to uni in one year, you need special talent to do that’. The jealousy stems from the fact that, like me, Jenkinson is a lifelong Arsenal fan. He’s living the dream that I still convince myself I might too one day be living. It’s not fair. The difference is, even if I did have the footballing ability I’m sure I would be a trembling wreck once I entered the pitch, terrified of wasting the opportunity and letting it pass me by. Jenkinson seems to be able to harness the emotions he clearly feels for the Club and has been arguably the best right back in the League thus far, making him a fans favourite and a unique individual in today’s footballing landscape.
Arsenal are lucky to have a collection of young top class English players who have all been at the Club from a young age. Along with Jenkinson the likes of Gibbs, Frimpong, Wilshere and Yennaris (a mascot the last time we played Coventry) share a relationship with the Club and the fans that goes beyond that of their professional duties.
Jenkinson was at Highbury in 1998 when Arsene Wenger won his first title with Arsenal, he was just 6 years old. ‘I remember the peanut man at Highbury, he would sell them in bags’. He was there in 2004 when the Invincibles beat Leicester City to secure the unbeaten season. He was at the victory parade in Islington the following day, ‘it was a really nice day out for me, dad and my brother’. It’s difficult to comprehend that our current right back shares these same memories and the same heroes as us. Can you imagine his excitement when he heard Thierry was set to return last January.
The whole Jenkinson family are massive Gooners. This month it emerged Carl had bought one of the engraved stones outside the stadium with the message ‘Grandad, hope you’re proud’ emblazoned on it (below). ‘It’s a regret that he has not been able to watch me, but I am sure he is looking down at how things are going for me and the fact that I’m playing for Arsenal’. ‘I am a fan of this Club and that will never change. I am lucky enough to have been given the ability and the chance to play for my Club’.
Carl’s mum is Finnish whilst his dad is English meaning he has dual nationality. He has represented both countries at youth level and has been offered a full international cap by Finland but has turned it down to focus on Club football. With Glen Johnson suspended for the upcoming England game against San Marino, rumours suggest Carl could be in for a first England cap. The squad is announced on Thursday (4th) so we’ll have to wait and see. He definitely deserves it but I’m not sure it’s the best thing for his development right now.
Carl’s rise to prominence is astonishing. The fact he’s being mentioned as a possible England right back is unbelievable considering his footballing past. Seven months before Arsenal came in for him he was on loan at non-league Eastbourne Borough, and the year before that he was at Welling Utd in the Conference South. Even whilst at Charlton he only made nine first team appearances. Nevertheless he was the subject of interest from many Premier Clubs including Chelsea and Tottenham. Clearly there was only one destination for Carl.
Suggestions of an international call up have been supported by many in the media and the wider footballing fraternity. Graeme Souness claims ‘last year, Jenkinson didn’t know where he was at times, but he’s got a chance of being a real player for the next 12 years’. Gary Neville says he has ‘improved enormously’. ‘I don’t know him but he looks like a kid that’ll be willing to run into a brick wall for you’. High praise indeed from the best English right back of his generation (if we consider Lee Dixon the generation before of course, sorry Lee).
Jenkinson, on the face of it, doesn’t look like your average footballer. He runs in a slightly awkward hunched over manner, his ludicrous haircut has been the subject of much amusement within the squad. Nevertheless, he’s a serious athlete and is apparently one of the fittest players at the Club. His crossing ability is far superior to any of the other full backs or even wingers that we possess. The assist for Gervinho against Montpellier is a perfect example of what he offers. He’s good in the air and has the ability to maintain possession in tight areas. One of my favourite stats/facts of the season has to be that Jenkinson has completed more accurate passes thus far than ‘pass master’ Joe Allen.
With Sagna back in full training he has a real battle on his hands for a starting place. After the situation we had last year with all four recognised full backs injured, it’s extremely nice to know we can call on the young man if needs be. Lets hope Souness is right and I’m still feeling proud and jealous as we’re watching Carl storming down the right wing in 12 years time. I’m sure Grandad Jenkinson is a happy man wherever he is.