Arsenal wonderkid Brooke Norton-Cuffy is starring on loan in the Championship and won the Euros with England U19s
ARSENAL wonderkid Brooke Norton-Cuffy has designs on becoming the best wing-back in Europe.
The teenager, just 18, is currently on loan at Rotherham United – where he is getting rave reviews.
Last season he starred at Lincoln City, where his combination of power and pace also earned the youngster high-praise.
While back in July, Norton-Cuffy played an important role in England’s U19 Euros triumph against Israel in the final.
“I want to reach my potential, or go above and beyond what my potential is,” he recently revealed.
“In my career, I want to be a star player in a top league in Europe, I want to win as many trophies as I can.”
Striking up a relationship
Norton-Cuffy joined Arsenal at the tender age of 10. Before that, the Pimlico-born prospect trained with Chelsea.
However, he wasn’t the swashbuckling defender he is today.
Just like Ashley Cole did in his younger days, Norton-Cuffy fancied himself as a striker.
As he developed at Hale End his position soon changed into an attacking full-back.
Both-footed, he is able to play on each flank – although has been mainly utilised on the right.
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Back in August, he signed a long-term contract with the Gunners who believe he has a big future at the club.
Earning his stripes
Last season, Norton-Cuffy joined Lincoln City in the January transfer window in a loan deal.
Immediately, he was thrust into action for the League One side – making 17 appearances for The Imps and scoring once. For the fans, he was a hit.
His former Lincoln boss Michael Appleton, now in charge at Blackpool, also tipped Norton-Cuffy to have a huge future at Arsenal.
He told Lincolnshire Live in March: “I don’t want Arsenal ringing me up saying ‘what have you said that for?’
“But I’ve been saying it behind the scenes, I think he will play for Arsenal’s first team on a regular basis.
“It might not be for a couple of years but it’s definitely going to happen.
“He’ll hopefully continue his progression over the next few games.
“There’s one or two things that I think I can help him with, but by the time he goes back to Arsenal, he’ll be much better.”
More first team experience at Rotherham
After sitting down with Academy Manager Per Mertesacker and Arsenal’s loan manager Ben Knapper, Norton-Cuffy was adamant he wanted another loan move and more experience.
He told Goal: “I always knew that I was going to go back out on loan. I feel like U23s football is good, but I’ve already had a sniff of senior football and so I wasn’t going to shy away from that.
“I want to keep progressing and men’s football is a lot more challenging for me than U23s. So as soon as my spell was done with Lincoln, I knew I was going to go back out on loan.”
Four games into his Rotherham career, Norton-Cuffy has again been championed.
In a recent match against Sunderland, 80 per cent of fans voted him man of the match in a poll held by supporters.
He said: “I’m not sure if it’s the Championship, or the club that I’m at right now, but training is intense.
“It’s a lot of running, a lot of demand on the body – especially as I’m playing wing-back, which is a very key position in this team.
“I feel like it’s been a lot harder. You can’t switch off. In League 1, if you lose the ball or make a silly mistake, sometimes you don’t get punished. But if you do make silly mistakes in this league, you do. So it’s about learning quickly.
“This was the next step for me. League 1 last season was a good step up from U23s football, but you always look to improve and I think I just needed to go up a level again. And now I feel myself improving with each game, so it’s good.”
Although the tournament began difficulty for Norton-Cuffy, he certainly came good for England when they needed him.
Conceding a penalty against Italy was a harsh lesson learned.
He didn’t start the final against Israel, but came on in the 71st minute with the scores level.
Instantly, he put himself about – getting a yellow card and firing a shot wide.
Then, he was involved in the build-up to the decisive goal – passing the ball on to Harvey Vale, who set-up Chelsea summer signing Carney Chukwuemeka to put the Three Lions ahead.
Norton-Cuffy’s next challenge is to follow the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah into the Arsenal first team.
“You see that it can be done,” he said. “Bukayo’s the starting right winger of the Arsenal first-team wearing the No.7. Emile now has the No.10 shirt.
“So they are inspirations because you can see it’s achievable. I used to see them at Hale End and now when you go up to London Colney they are the main people in the first-team. It is inspirational.”
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