Every year, Arsenal take on a fresh intake of players as young as seven at Hale End, with the aim of helping some of them complete a first-team breakthrough in future.

The new Academy facility was officially opened in April and centre-back Rob Holding offered his advice to those who are eager to one day emulate him and play senior football for Arsenal.

I think your attitude, how much effort you put in, how much you want it. It comes to maturity, how fast you grow personally [is important],” Holding was quoted as saying by the club’s official website.

You have to give some time to the players who may not mature so fast but still might have the technical ability – and I think that’s what they do here. I was speaking to Steve Leonard (u12 head of youth) and he was saying that if they have the ability but aren’t physically there yet, just keep them around. You need to do that to keep the gems of players.

The step up from academy football to senior football, where people’s jobs are on the line, it brings a different pressure. It is a difficult time,” Holding stated.

The 21-year-old defender made 25 appearances at u23 level with Bolton before making his first-team debut against Middlesbrough during the 2015/16 campaign.

Alternating between centre-back and right-back within Bolton’s backline, Holding managed to acclimatise well when called upon despite his side’s struggles for consistency in the Championship.

holding bol
BOLTON, ENGLAND – APRIL 19: Rob Holding of Bolton Wanderers battles with Igor Vetokele of Charlton Athletic during the Sky Bet Championship match between Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic at Reebok Stadium on April 19, 2016 in Bolton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Reflecting on his experiences the Englishman said, “I had a difficult year at Bolton but personally just kept performing as best as I could and it lead to the move to Arsenal.

It is difficult to make the step up but you’ve just got to be prepared physically and mentally to put the work in. It’s about enjoying playing football and not thinking about what happens if you get dropped out of the team and you’re not involved. It’s about enjoying football and wanting to play.

If you have that passion, you’ll have the drive to go on and hopefully get to the first team.

Some interesting comments from Holding, who crucially impressed when called upon by Arsene Wenger last season.

Unfazed by new experiences alongside more accomplished defenders, he asserted himself as a talented defensive prospect for years to come in north London while proving an example for youngsters to follow on from.

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Football writer. Objective reviews and analysis of European football. Lifelong Arsenal fan, youth football enthusiast.