Jermaine Pennant had it all at his feet.
The talented Englishman arrived at Arsenal in 1999 when he was just 15. Arsenal agreed to a £2m fee with Charlton and Pennant made his debut aged just 16, such was the faith the manager had in his talent.
But there were to be only five starts in seven years for Pennant which included spells at Watford (twice), Leeds, and Birmingham on loan before sealing a permanent move to the Blues in 2005.
So what went wrong? Why was he not able to make it at Arsenal?
Pennant believes it is because he signed for the club too young.
“It was too soon for me,” Pennant told the Times (£).
“Looking back now, I wish I could have waited longer.
“Don’t get me wrong. It was fantastic.
“Being at Arsenal, being around Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, all those great players and great coaches, was one of the best times of my career.
“But I’d played for the first team at Notts County, whereas Arsenal wanted me to slip into the youth team. I didn’t start a league game until I was 20.
“That was almost five years.
“Frustration crept in and I didn’t handle the pressure well. I didn’t have the discipline. That caused havoc for me.”
Pennant serves as a vital lesson to all young footballers who want everything now. We’ve seen it at Arsenal with a number of players who get frustrated with not being first team regulars when they are still only teenagers, but the teenage starter at a club like Arsenal is a rare thing.
They should want to be the exception, there is nothing wrong with that, but they need to know, simply, that that first professional contract at Arsenal is not the end of their journey to super stardom, but the very beginning.
Pennant went on to play for Liverpool, Portsmouth, Real Zaragoza, Stoke City, Wolves, FC Pune City, Wigan Athletic before finally ending up in Singapore with Tampines Rovers.
He is still only 33.