Henri Lansbury has always been tipped for success. From the moment he signed for Arsenal in 1999 his coaches thought he had something special, that touch, that poise, that technique that separated him from the rest - this boy was going to be a star.
But as so many careers end up going, he spent the majority of his time at Arsenal playing reserve and youth football - or being sent out on countless loan deals.
Scunthorpe United, Watford, Norwich City and West Ham United all benefited from his services - but Arsene Wenger refused to let him go.
In 2011 the Arsenal boss refused to say that Lansbury could leave the club, adamant he would play for The Gunners one day … that is how sure he was over the potential the England Under-21 had showcased:
“Henri Lansbury is in a situation where I believe he will make a career. At the moment it is a bit congested for him but I believe he has the talent to play for Arsenal Football Club. I have to give him a chance at some stage and as quickly as possible. I believe in him.”
But that chance never came, and a year later Lansbury left permanently - joining Nottingham Forest on a four-year deal.
After a solid debut season for the club, his second year has been a revelation.
Yesterday he stole the show as Forest beat Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 at the Amex - scoring a brace as Forest continued their promotion march - sitting in fourth place behind Leicester, QPR and Burnley.
Lansbury has always had the talent, but risked wasting it by staying with Arsenal too long. The likes of Nico Yennaris, Craig Eastmond and Sanchez Watt for instance would have done better to leave Arsenal last year, like Lansbury did, take that leap of faith and hope to prove yourself outside of the Arsenal system.
Lansbury has broken away from The Gunners, who undoubtedly rated him but like a relationship gone sour struggled for a while to understand it would never quite work out - despite the mutual affection.
Now he is blazing his own trail back to the Premier League.
image: © mapperley_jas