Former Arsenal star Alban Bunjaku was once tipped to play for England. However, after rejecting a professional contract and joining La Liga side Seville, he finds himself back in England with Championship promotion favourites Derby County, playing for their Under-21 side.
The Rams Under-21s opened the scoring in their first ever Under-21 Premier League game, following their promotion to category 1 status, after just 26 seconds when Spanish winger Ivan Calero was brought down in the box for a penalty. Alefe Santos, another summer signing for the Rams, stepped up and scored the penalty in composed fashion.
Calero was at it again when he set up England youth international Kwame Thomas for a second Derby goal. However, Middlesbrough were able to pull one back late in the game, but the Rams proved too strong and looked good value for their win.
During his time at Arsenal, teammate and the Gunners' hero from their opening Premier League Under-21 match Chuba Akpom revealed that Bunjaku was technically the best player at Arsenal, commenting: ''He was technically better than everyone; had an amazing touch – the best. Very good dribbling ability, great awareness, could drop a shoulder and shoot, very skilful.’'
Nevertheless, a reported breakdown between Alban and the coaching staff at Arsenal saw the starlet turn a deal down at the Emirates and move to La Liga side Seville. Two years on, he is back in England after signing a permanent deal with Derby and is now, finally, looking to progress into first team football after years of sitting on the touchline.
Who knows, given Akpom's testimony, if the situation had been different he perhaps could have progressed further at the Emirates.