Arsenal youth goalkeeper Brian Okonkwo made his first senior start whilst completing his one-match loan to Hitchin Town on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Arsenal confirmed the one-match loan of 17-year-old goalkeeper Brian Okonkwo to Hitchin Town.
Hitchin Town goalkeeper Charlie Horlock was sent off in their last game, leaving him suspended for their fixture against Nuneaton on Saturday.
With no internal alternatives available, manager Mark Burke contacted various clubs looking for a replacement, before contacting Arsenal’s Ken Gillard, who himself used to play for Hitchin Town.
Gillard and Arsenal agreed to help out by releasing Okonkwo to Hitchin Town for a game.
Okonkwo started the 3pm kick-off on Saturday, and he helped Hitchin Town to a 1-1 draw, making a couple of saves to earn the side a point.
“I thought he was excellent,” Hitchin boss Burke said afterwards. “I don’t think he’s used to that sort of [long] kicking, his quads might be a bit sore… welcome to non-league football!
“The fans were giving him a little bit of jovial banter behind the goal and he took it well… he’s certainly not let Arsenal down, he’s made them proud.”
The goalkeeper will now return to the Arsenal academy to continue his development with Jack Wilshere’s u18 side.
Brian Okonkwo is the younger brother of Arsenal goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo, who is out on loan with Sturm Graz.
The younger Okonkwo brother has been playing with the u18s this season, though he’s faced strong internal competition from the likes of Noah Cooper, Alexei Rojas Fedorushchenko, and Alex Kovacevic.
The chance to make a debut in senior football on Saturday was certainly a unique one, and Okonkwo will be pleased to have helped Hitchin Town to secure a draw.