Dubbed by Wenger a ‘winner with a future’ at Arsenal - now playing in the Conference South

Arsene Wenger

Kerrea Gilbert is about to embark on a season with Maidenhead United ... but what happened in between?

Arsenal fans; remember Kerrea Gilbert?

A London lad with bags of pace and a decent delivery he came to the fore in the Arsenal first-team in 2005 amid a full-back injury crisis at the club.

With Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Lauren all injured Gilbert got a run in the team at both left and right back in the 2005-06 season and gained universal praise for impressive performances; in light of being just 18-years-old.

Arsene Wenger was one such person; stating in November 2005:

"I like Kerrea because he is a winner and a fighter. I told him not to worry and just to 'play as well as you can - I know it's not your position’. For me he did very well, especially in the one-on-ones and was good tactically as well. Of course, going forward on the left he was a little bit handicapped, but I'm very pleased with his game. He is a bit young at the moment, he was one of the youngest players out there, only 18, but as a right-back he certainly has a future."

Gilbert played against Ajax in the Champions League that season and featured twice in the Premier League; he even notched an assist for Thierry Henry in a League Cup game in 2006.

But with all this promise where is he now?

His career has certainly not remained on the same trajectory as was present as a youngster.

Now 26-years-old he signed for Maidenhead United in March alongside former QPR youngster Romone Rose (who coincidentally lived down the road from me and went to Primary and Secondary School with me; but I digress).

He is still presented on the clubs official Pitchero site so it looks as if he is about to embark on a season in the Conference South.

So what happened in between that saw this one time Arsenal star of the future slip down the ladder?

Well when you look on Twitter and across the web the general opinion of fans at his previous clubs suggests that his poor attitude is to blame for his fall from grace.

Indeed a move to the Portland Timbers in 2010 fell through because his Visa was denied due to an arrest and charge for being drunk and disorderly in 2008.

But he has also been unlucky with picking up injuries at the wrong time.

He suffered one when in the Arsenal starting line-up and again when he was first-choice at Cardiff City on loan. Chris Gunter came in and made the right-back spot his own.

Things did not pan out at Southend United, Yeovil Town or Shamrock Rovers, with this story about poor attitude again being prevalent, but his time with Leicester City was generally positive; playing plenty of games and winning a League One championship medal in 2009.

So for me I refuse to believe that a ‘poor attitude’ will simply put paid to the career of this once promising player.

At the age of 26 he still has plenty of time to prove his worth as a potential Football League player; and hopefully a solid campaign with The Magpies this season will be the stepping stone he needs to rediscover that magic touch from 2005.

Arsenal fans what are your memories of Kerrea Gilbert?

image: © Matt and Kim Rudge

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