Arsenal officially get their pre-season underway today when they take on Nurnberg in Germany.
Mikel Arteta's side will be looking to get off to the perfect start this summer against the 2. Bundesliga side, who they beat 5-3 this time last year. New signing Kai Havertz is hoping to make his Gunners debut after joining from London rivals Chelsea last month in a deal worth £65million.
A number of Hale End academy graduates have also travelled, including highly-rated defender Reull Waters, who started in this fixture 12 months ago. With that in mind, football.london has provided a little background on who Walters is and what his academy background is below.
Aged just 18, Walters is a talented defender born in London, England.
He is a versatile player, typically operating as a right-back but more than capable of being utilised in central defence as well considering his impressive physical qualities and intelligent reading of the game that exceeds his age. The talented teenager made the matchday squad for the first-team squad fora 2-2 draw against Sporting CP last season, although he was an unused substitute in the end.
Walters played 23 games for the Under-21 side last term, featuring 12 times as a right-back and ten as a centre-half, as per Transfermarkt.
After starting in Sunday League at Peckham Town, Walters was scouted by Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. He eventually chose to sign for Spurs' academy because he and his family believed it was the best thing for his development.
However, after four years with the club, he believed he was losing his way and so he made the tough decision to take some time out from the game.
Walters told Arsenal Media back in 2021: “We did a lot of research and decided that Tottenham would be the best place for my development. I stayed with them for the next four years of my life and they eventually offered me another two-year contract, but this is when I made the biggest decision of my career so far.
"At that time, I was permanently playing with the age group above, but I felt like over the years I’d lost my way with what makes me stand out on a football pitch and I was becoming a player that I didn’t want to be. I wasn’t attacking like I used to, I wasn’t as confident as I used to be, and I wasn’t showing what I thought I was capable of. I felt like being in an academy made me try to play a certain way and I was almost playing within myself.
"In that moment, my dad and I made the decision together that I would take a break from academy football and focus on myself again. That break would last nearly two years and I used almost every moment to challenge and improve myself. It was a really scary and risky decision, but I knew there was more to come from me and that I needed this break.”
Walters joined the Gunners after his break from football and he's progressed well ever since. Following spells in both the under-18s and the under-23s last season, he signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in February 2022.
He told the club: "I’m just really grateful for the opportunity I’ve being given.
"I just want to make sure that I start to push on and do what I’ve been doing before, but now to a new level."
His rise to the first-team is great to see. Arsenal fans will be hoping to see him do well if he is involved against the Eagles.
Can Reuell Walters be the next break-out star from Arsenal's academy? Have your say below!2022-07-08T16:10:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd