Fonte thrilled at Arsenal debut PDF Print E-mail

Youngster takes first-team bow in front of 60,000 fans

Rui FonteRui Fonte made his first-team debut for Arsenal on Tuesday. The 18-year-old Portuguese striker was used in the final minutes of the London club’s Carling Cup victory over Wigan.

Although the few minutes on the pitch did not give the talented prospect time to showcase his ability, the player was thrilled to get the feel of playing in front of a packed Emirates Stadium. “I felt great, very happy, to play in front of 60 000 people,” he told Portuguese website Maisfutebol.

Fonte, who left Sporting for the Gunners on a long-term loan deal two years ago, admitted that nerves came into the equation, but once he was on the field they disappeared.

Pre-match nerves

“I managed to sleep the night before, but as the match approached I got more nervous. But Arsene Wenger just told me to be calm and to do my best.

“When the match started I was nervous as I was on the bench, but at half time I was thinking I had a chance of coming on and that made me calmer.

“Now what I have to do is to continue working to try and earn more opportunities. People are satisfied with me and I think this call-up was the result of my hard work.”

Fierce competition

Although delighted to get a taste of first-team action, Fonte is well aware of the fierce competition he faces to make it into the Arsenal first team.

As well as established forwards Adebayor, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo and Theo Walcott, the Portuguese starlet must also compete with Mexican sensation Carlos Vela who is tipped for great things.

“I’m set on staying here – I’ve got nothing else on my mind,” said the Portugal U19 international, who also praised the policy adopted by both Arsenal and Sporting in putting faith in players who come through the clubs’ youth systems.

“Sporting and Arsenal are the clubs that give young players the best chance. Like I said, I want to make it at Arsenal, but if I return to Sporting I’ll do so with pleasure. I will always like Sporting.”

Bishchoff debut

The match against Wigan also saw the debut of another potential Portuguese star of the future, Amaury Bischoff, who also came on late in the second half.

The duo may not have to wait long to get another chance of tasting first-team action. Wenger was enthralled with the performance of his young team and has promised that he will stick to his policy of fielding an “Arsenal kids” side in the competition.

13 November 2008, by Tom Kundert

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