Arsenal’s all-time greatest Hale End XI: Adams, Cole, Saka, Parlour…

Arsenal are lucky enough to boast one of the best youth academies in Europe as they have developed some top talents in North London over the years.

Mikel Arteta has heavily leaned on the Arsenal academy throughout his time as manager and the Gunners now have the youngest squad in the Premier League.

We’ve scrolled through the archives and put together Arsenal’s all-time greatest Hale End academy XI.

GK: Emiliano Martinez

His World Cup heroics cemented his place in Argentine folklore for eternity. Arsenal picked up Martinez when he was just 17 years old and they nurtured his talents in the youth academy.

When promoted to the first team, Martinez spent the majority of his time on the club’s books out on loan, but he did make 38 appearances in total. Since leaving Arsenal, Martinez has been propelled to stardom in Argentina and is a worthy inclusion on the list.

RB: Hector Bellerin

Bellerin spent his early days with Barcelona, but he was snapped up by the Arsenal academy in 2011 and he went on to make over 200 appearances for the club.

Throughout his time with Arsenal, Bellerin won six trophies, including three FA Cups. After leaving Arsenal he spent a short stint back at hometown club Barcelona before joining Sporting CP in January.

CB: Tony Adams

Captain, leader, legend.

Tonay Adams playing for Arsenal against Wimbledon. Highbuty, London, November 1996.

READ: Ranking every Arsenal captain of the Premier League era

CB: David O’Leary

We really were spoilt for choice at centre-half, but we couldn’t overlook O’Leary. Born in Stoke Newington, raised in Dublin, the Irish defender returned to London to sign for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1973 and he quickly rose through the ranks in North London.

O’Leary enjoyed a stellar career at Arsenal, which spanned over 18 years in total. With 722 games under his belt, O’Leary still holds the record for the most appearances at the club.

LB: Ashley Cole

Arsenal fans might still have a sour taste in their mouth from how Cole went about leaving, but his ability has never been in doubt. After progressing through the youth ranks, Cole was handed his debut as a teenager.

He went on to become arguably the best left-back of his generation and he played a role in the Gunners winning seven trophies while he was at the club, including as a key player in that unforgettable Invincible 2003-04 season.

RM: Bukayo Saka

Arsenal’s starboy was always going to make the list, wasn’t he? Saka is having the season of his life right now and he will have a huge role to play in the Premier League title race.

The Gunners have a real gem on their hands and the best part is, the best is still to come with Saka.

CM: David Rocastle

Having been rejected by Millwall as a youngster, Rocastle was picked up by the Arsenal academy in 1982 and he was handed a professional contract just a few years later.

Martin Keown revealed that the midfielder struggled with his eyesight in the early years of his career. “They couldn’t work out why Rocastle was running around dribbling with his head down,” Keown told Daily Mail in 2010.

“So they took him to the halfway line and said: ‘Can you see the goal?’ and he couldn’t. His eyesight was terrible. They sorted him out with contact lenses and his career took off.”

The Gunners legend tragically passed away in 2001 at the age of 33. He received an outpouring of heartfelt tributes from his boyhood club.

CM: Ray Parlour

Nicknamed the ‘Romford Pele’, Parlour was a fan favourite in North London. To this day, he still holds the record for the most Premier League appearances for Arsenal with 333.

LM: Serge Gnabry

The German winger has had an interesting career trajectory to say the least. Gnabry joined Arsenal’s youth academy as a 16-year-old and he impressed with the Under-18s.

His career with the Gunners never quite took off though and a failed loan move to West Brom proved to be the final straw. Since leaving the club, he has build his career back up in the Bundesliga and is now regarded as one of the best wingers in Europe.

ST: Kevin Campbell

From a young age, Arsenal knew they had a gem on their hands in Campbell. The striker scored 59 goals in a single campaign for Arsenal’s youth side as they went on to win the FA Youth Cup.

Campbell gave seven solid years of service to Arsenal, before he moved on in 1995. He scored a total of 59 goals in 224 appearances for the club.

ST: Andy Cole

It goes without saying that Cole isn’t well-known for his Arsenal days, but he did start his career in North London as a youngster. He ultimately only made two first-team appearances for the Gunners before Bristol City swooped in back in 1993.

He still feels like the one that got away for plenty of Arsenal fans.

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