Former Arsenal wonderkid Jeremie Aliadiere has given some insight into why he failed to live up to his potential at the club.
The Frenchman spent eight years on our books but was barely ever a regular in Arsene Wenger’s first-team, despite looking a huge prospect when he first joined us as a teenager.
Aliadiere excelled at youth level and looked ready to play more often by around 2002, but faced plenty of big-name competition in the Arsenal squad before then struggling with injuries.
Overall, the former striker feels he wasn’t confident enough and that that was the main thing that cost him a better career with us.
Speaking to Goal, he said: “That’s is the biggest regret I’ve got. It’s that I was too shy, I wasn’t confident enough in my ability.
“I feel like I could have had a much better career, at Arsenal in particular, if I had believed in myself more. I think when I was there, I always felt like it was too high a level for me.
“It’s just my character. I’ve always been very reserved, I keep it all in and I try to please people all the time. I would pass the ball so I didn’t get told off, rather than try and beat two or three players and risk having Thierry or Dennis shouting at me.
“I always felt that pressure of having to play for them, rather than for myself and I do think that massively held me back. I feel like I definitely had the talent and capacity to do it, but mentally I was just not ready or prepared.
“Those guys were so intense and so demanding. They would fight in training and mentally, I think I was frightened by it.
“I saw how determined they were, how they had the capacity to be friends, but then two minutes later they would be out on that training pitch and would be animals.
“I was still learning really and would think ‘my God, they are going to smash me up’. I think it made me a little bit more apprehensive about it all.
“There were so many incidents, tackles, fights. It would happen once a week. But that’s what made that squad as strong as it was.”
It’s certainly a shame when players don’t fulfil their natural talent, with Aliadiere looking like he really could have been something special if he’d just had a bit more luck.
It’s true that confidence is important and it sounds like Wenger could perhaps have done well to show a bit more faith in him at that crucial point in his career, though of course that’s easier said than done when players like Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp made up our options in attack.