Few Arsenal players have the crowd singing their name before they’ve even kicked a ball for the club, but that’s what greeted Charlie Patino as the 18-year-old stripped off on the touchline before replacing Emile Smith Rowe.
The highly-rated Hale End graduate didn’t wait long to give something back. Within 11 minutes, the midfielder stroked home his first goal for the club to complete a 5-1 rout of Sunderland that sees Arsenal secure a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
After months of speculation about when Patino might make his debut, this was a fairytale start to life in the first team.
For Mikel Arteta, who hasn’t had as many opportunities to blood youngsters as he might have liked, it was something to cherish.
“A beautiful moment,” reflected the manager in his post-game press conference.
“He is a kid that is coming through our system, a lovely kid. He is training with us almost every week. It was a dream. As a debut to come here, to score in front of our fans, a really special moment.”
Arteta has known for quite some time that he has a gem on his hands but he’s also been doing his best to ensure the hype around the kid doesn’t get out of hand.
While acknowledging the enthusiasm of tonight’s crowd, he also preached a need for patience.
“I know, I know,” he said of the chanting of Patino’s name before his introduction.
“I think that is very positive. They heard about him and know what he can become and now we have to cook him slowly. Today was a good start, I think.
He added: “That [hype] is what we have to avoid. He still has a lot of competition in front of him. He is really young. And he needs to go step by step.
“Today he was lucky, he got the opportunity and he took it really well.”
As expected, the boffins have been having a field day since.
Our resident youth expert Jeorge Bird reports Charlie is the first Arsenal Academy graduate to score on his debut since Sanchez Watt against West Bromwich Albion in 2009 and Opta’s Tom Ede reveals he’s the youngest player to score on his Arsenal debut since Jon Sammels in 1963.
Arsenal also confirmed that Patino is the 886th player to represent the club’s men’s team.