Football

Nketiah equals Shearer’s England record

Eddie Nketiah

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah joined Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers as the England U21 top scorer of all time with his 13th strike on Wednesday.

The youngster found the net 10 minutes after replacing Sam Surridge in the 3-3 draw versus Andorra in a Uefa U21 Championship game staged at Estadi Nacional.

With the six-goal thriller tied at 2-2, the Gunners’ forward put the Young Lions in front eight minutes from full time after a one-two touch with Eberechi Eze. In the process, he joined Shearer and Jeffers in the hallowed ranks.

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However, the hosts still had time to score a surprise equaliser on the break in added time through Christian Garcia.

Unlike Jeffers who achieved his feat in 16 games, Nketiah and Shearer reached that mark in just 11 outings.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side faces Turkey in their next game on Tuesday, with the 21-year-old of Ghanaian descent – who boasts nine goals in his last five appearances – hoping to shatter the longstanding record.

Nketiah rose through the youth ranks at the Emirates Stadium before graduating to the senior squad in 2017 but was made to wait for his breakthrough after a string of cameo appearances.

Despite scoring four goals during the Gunners’ pre-season tour of the United States, he was sent out on loan to Leeds to continue his development.

Unfortunately, he struggled for regular playing time at Elland Road, and the Gunners ended up calling him back to the Emirates in January.

Nketiah hit three goals in seven outings for Arsenal after returning to the club from Leeds, before seeing his progress interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

He has remained a regular at the start of 2020-21 season, with his goal account for the new season opened with a late winner in a derby date with West Ham the last time out.

His contract at Arsenal is due to run until the summer of 2022, albeit, he is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

“Auba’s a great player and I’ve had the privilege of playing alongside him for a little while now,” Nketiah told Evening Standard.

“He’s a top striker and that’s where I want to be in the future. Whenever we’re training or working on little things, I’m always asking him about how he does it, how he prepares and whether he has any little tips.

“Some of the variety in his finishing is just outstanding and what’s even better is that he is always willing to help other people out — he’s great to have around.

“He’s one of the best about and I’m always looking to learn from him.”