Joe Willock says it’s a ‘dream come true’ to make it into the Arsenal first team, and he’s very grateful for the opportunity to step up.

Joe Willock of Arsenal battles for possession with Marcus Harness of Portsmouth FC during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Portsmouth FC and Arsenal FC at Fratton Park on March 02, 2020 in Portsmouth, England.
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND: Joe Willock battles for possession with Marcus Harness of Portsmouth FC on March 02, 2020. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Joe Willock certainly took advantage of the uncertain situation at Arsenal this season. The 20-year-old is up to 34 appearances this campaign, making 18 starts in all competitions. It’s another step closer to regular first-team action, after just six games last year.

Willock has four goals in 2019/20, which actually makes him the club’s highest-scoring midfielder right now. As worrying as that stat is for the club as a whole, it’s a nice one for the player himself.

Speaking to Arsenal this week, Willock admitted he’s living his dream right now. After growing up in the Arsenal academy alongside brothers Matty and Chris (currently of Gillingham and Huddersfield), the Gunners’ first-team was always his target.

“For me, as a young boy growing up in the academy, a local boy, to go to Hale End and the Arsenal youth training centre, it is a dream come true,” Willock said.

“Finally making it into the first team and playing games, I always wished and dreamt of it. But I never thought 100 per cent it would come true. Now it has, I really have to thank God and my family for nurturing me into the first team and on such a journey.”

Of course, the work isn’t over yet. Though Willock is a regular in the squad, he isn’t quite a starter. The four goals he scored were nice, but he’s waiting on the fifth ever since that banger at Anfield in October.

There’s a lot more to come from Willock if he reaches his potential, and that’s the aim now. As a former midfielder himself, Mikel Arteta is a good person to guide him through it.