Arsenal u23 goalkeeper Karl Hein made his senior international debut for Estonia in the Nations League on Saturday, at just 18 years of age.

Karl Hein receives the Man of the Match award for the Estonia National Team (Photo via Eesti Jalgpall on Instagram)
Karl Hein receives the Man of the Match award for the Estonia National Team (Photo via Eesti Jalgpall on Instagram)

Arsenal academy goalkeeper Karl Hein became the second member of the under-23 team to make his senior international debut this week, following Daniel Ballard’s appearance for Northern Ireland on Friday.

It was a bit of a surprise to see 18-year-old Hein starting, with goalkeepers Artur Kotenko (39) and Karl Johan Pechter (24) as much more experienced options in the squad. But just like with Ballard, the coach decided to put faith in a younger alternative.

Georgia ended up winning the match 1-0, but Hein played well enough to win Estonia’s Man-of-the-Match award.

There was certainly nothing he could do about the goal, a powerful header from just far enough out that he couldn’t contest it. The Sky Sports commentator said of the goal: “Three keepers wouldn’t save that, right in the corner. What a finish.”

Speaking after the game, Hein said: “It’s a pity. The first half was perhaps Georgia’s most dominant side, but in the second half, we got a better run and had a chance.

“I couldn’t expect anything (from the game), it was still my first game at that level and I was ready for anything. It was rather a quiet working day.

“The boys were fighting hard and sorry for the loss, but the effort was good. There is no one to blame.”

Hein broke into the Arsenal u23 side last season, after starting the campaign with the u18s. He is still prone to the occasional mistake. But on his day, he pulls off top-quality saves and keeps his side in matches.

If he can find more consistency as he continues to develop, he can play for the Arsenal first-team someday. For now, it’s great to see him getting a chance with his national side.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.