When Arsenal re-signed academy graduate Anna Patten in January they weren’t just re-signing an academy product, they were re-signing a childhood Arsenal fan. The Harpenden born 21-year old rejoined the club in January from the University of South Carolina but her Arsenal story actually goes back to when six-year old Anna was taken to Highbury by her Arsenal supporting uncle in January 2006.
“Me, my mum, dad and brothers all support different teams but my uncle is a big Arsenal fan and he was the one that got me loving Arsenal,” Anna told Arseblog News. “He took me to Highbury as a Christmas present when I was six going on seven and we beat Middlesbrough 7-0. It was such an amazing game and there were lots of goals but to just see and feel all of the love for Arsenal in the stadium and I just thought, ‘I really like this, I like this club a lot.’ From then on all you could catch me wearing was an Arsenal top.”
The game was one of the last Premier League fixtures to take place at Highbury and Patten told me that she feels a real sense of pride that she was able to take in a game at the old stadium. “I never asked my uncle if he took me because he knew the stadium was going to shut but I feel so honoured looking back, I don’t think many 21-year olds can say they saw a game there now.
“It was an experience that got me falling in love with football and Arsenal and I think probably in the back of my uncle’s mind he was thinking, ‘I need to take her before the stadium closes.” Thierry Henry scored a hat trick that day but Anna says she was a little young to take in too many of the small details.
“It was all quite overwhelming if I’m honest, that Christmas I was given that purple home shirt and what I remember the most was thinking, ‘we’re at home so they’ll be wearing that kit’ and I just remember being excited because I had the same shirt on. I can’t say I remember the details of the match because I was so young but I just remember celebrating a lot because we scored a lot!”
Our full interview with Anna also takes in her trial with Arsenal at the age of 12, making her first team debut when she was 17, her decision to move to the US college system and her experiences Stateside and then her return to the club in January. We also chat about Friday’s huge WSL game against Manchester United. The 36 minute interview will be released on the Arsenal Women Arsecast out next week which is released on the main Arsecast feed wherever you get your podcasts.
A big thank you to Anna for her time.