"I was blown away": ex-Arsenal prospect was SHOCKED by David Luiz
The shock for youth prospects coming into contact with first team football for the first time can be big. There's a reason so few make the jump from promising youngster to full-fledged star, and the difference in quality, speed and physicality of the professional game can scare some. That was the case for ex-Arsenal prospect Daniel Ballard.
The 22 year old centreback graduated from the Arsenal academy after joining the Gunners at age eight, and has now left to join Sunderland, signing for the Black Cats for £2 million after spending last season on loan at the Championship with Millwall.
However, he's still remembers how far he thought he was when he first got into the first team: "I did four or five sessions while Wenger was around. Even though I was only used as a training player, it's great to be able to always say I trained under him".
"I was blown away by how good Wilshere and Ozil were - they were on another planet and they just seemed world beaters to a youngster like me", explained Ballard, although he was most shocked by someone playing his own position: "Luiz was someone I was particularly taken aback by in terms of how good he was on the ball and the style of play he had. It made me understand how far away I was to that level and how hard I had to work."
Ballard has new left club having failed to make any senior appearances with Arsenal, despite his 35 games with the Under 18s and another 23 with the Under 21s. However, the youngster looks back kindly at his time with the Gunners. "The biggest thing I learned at Arsenal was hard work because I was never the best player in my age group or the one who they thought would go on and make a good career", he explains, "They drilled into me that I had to work the hardest, respect the coaches, listen and learn".
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