Whatever happened to #5… Emmanuel-Thomas, Dunne, Gilbert, Garry, Chorley


JAY EMMANUEL-THOMAS

Signed scholarship: 2007. Arsenal apps: 5. Subsequent career: Ipswich Town.

The leader and key figure of Arsenal’s all-conquering youth team late last decade, Emmanuel-Thomas is a prime example of a player who demonstrated an abundance of potential at youth level without being able to transport it to the senior stage. During his progression through the ranks at the club he demonstrated his versatility by operating in every position bar right-back, and showcased his array of skills and impressive strength on a weekly basis as he tormented Academy sides up and down the country. He showed glimpses of quality during loan spells at Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers and Cardiff City, but was restricted to a handful of senior outings for Arsenal, despite featuring briefly in the Premier League and Champions League as a substitute. For all his potential, Emmanuel-Thomas failed to make the breakthrough at Emirates Stadium and joined Ipswich Town on a permanent basis at the start of last season, although he has been unable to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up for the Championship side.

JAMES DUNNE

Signed scholarship: 2006. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Exeter City, Stevenage.

A robust, tough-tackling midfielder who moved to Arsenal as a 14 year old along with Kieran Gibbs when the old Wimbledon Academy disbanded, Dunne was a key part of the side that reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2006/07 and featured regularly for the Reserves during his first season as a scholar. First-team opportunities were non-existent for the youngster, however, and he joined Nottingham Forest on loan in 2008 prior to being released the following summer. He joined Exeter City, making over 100 appearances for the Grecians before, upon their relegation to League Two, switching to Stevenage at the start of last season, proceeding to establish himself as a regular at the Lamex Stadium.

KERREA GILBERT

Signed scholarship: 2003. Arsenal apps: 12. Subsequent career: Yeovil Town, Shamrock Rovers, Maidenhead United.

Athletic right-back Gilbert’s Arsenal career seemed to last for an eternity as, after displaying much initial promise during a stint in the first-team during the final season at Highbury, he endured four separate loan spells, whilst, in the midst of that, enjoying something of a second coming as a Gunners player during the 2009/10 campaign before being released that summer. Gilbert amassed nine appearances during 2005/06 following injuries to regular right-backs Lauren and Emmanuel Eboue, featuring in all four senior competitions and memorably setting up a goal for Thierry Henry with a fine cross in the final League Cup fixture at Highbury as Arsenal went out to Wigan Athletic. Somewhat ironically, Gilbert suffered an injury himself during a Premier League defeat to West Ham, and after spending the next few seasons on loan at various clubs, made a brief return during 2009/10, featuring in the Carling Cup and Champions League. After his release, the defender, who was plagued by attitude problems during his time at the club, signed for American side Portland Timbers, but the move eventually fell through due to a visa problem and, after failing to establish himself during subsequent stints with Yeovil Town and Shamrock Rovers, he signed for non-league Maidenhead United this week.

RYAN GARRY

Signed scholarship: 2000. Arsenal apps: 2. Subsequent career: Bournemouth. Retired: 2011.

A promising defender who shone as Arsenal won back-to-back FA Youth Cups at the turn of the century, Garry was all set for a promising career before a succession of recurrent injuries decimated his chances of a sustained spell in the game. He made his debut for Arsenal in what was then the Worthington Cup against Sunderland in 2002, before featuring in the Premier League for the first time at the end of the following season during an annihilation of Southampton at Highbury which kick-started Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten league run. That, unfortunately, would prove to be his final senior appearance for the club as Garry spent much of the next few years on the sidelines, eventually being released by the club in 2007. He joined Bournemouth, hoping to resurrect his career, and made 76 appearances for the Cherries, before injury again struck and he was forced to retire from the game in the summer of 2011. He now coaches at the Nike Academy, which helps to train promising young players.

BEN CHORLEY

Signed scholarship: 1998. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Wimbledon, MK Dons, Gillingham (loan), Tranmere Rovers, Leyton Orient, Stevenage.

Another double FA Youth Cup-winner, Chorley failed to make the grade at Highbury with such an established defence ahead of him, and left for Wimbledon in 2003, sticking with the club following the move to Milton Keynes, before eventually moving on to Tranmere, Leyton Orient and, most recently, Stevenage. Now 30, he has amassed over 425 senior appearances and, upon leaving Arsenal, reflected that: “I owe my career to Arsenal — no one can buy the experience of learning how to play football at that club.”

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9 comments

  1. JET seemed to have it all, but the more we watched him the more we realised he was missing that extra ingredient needed in the Prem. Shame, because there was a time when he was way ahead of almost every other youth player, but his potential didn’t evolve and he was surpassed by others and never stood a chance to get into Wenger’s technical team.

  2. JET stood out above Wilshere in the youth team. You need good management and luck around the start of a career. If he had gone to a lower Prem team, his stock would have been higher.

  3. with Ray and limpar. JET had/has everything in his locker. such a shame he didnt make it. It was all about JET as far as the youth team went but it does go to show you that you could have all the talent in the world but without a bit of luck it wont mean a thing. I do feel he failed to make the most of his loan spells. Unlike wiltshere, who seem to thrive on it. maybe wenger should of sent to coyle……..

  4. Its strange that JET never made the breakthrough seeing highly Wenger rated him. I found it really odd when we decided to sell especially when we had Chamakh and Park who never really looked the part

  5. By the look of his twitter JET always liked the party lifestyle, often posting pics of his nights out, and didn’t seem like the brightest guy. Had we given him a new and improved contract to keep him on his lifestyle might have only got worse. And you never know what kind of negative influence a guy like that might have on the other youngsters. Yennaris seemed to be good friends with him and they used to go out together, now JET isn’t around Nico seems to have curbed the nights out, matured, and made some big improvements to his game. It was probably best for everyone that he left, our other youngsters can’t be influenced and JET might grow up a bit now he’s on lower wages and has to fight for a place instead of being the big fish in the small pond of Arsenal reserves.

  6. Holloway thought quite highly of JET when he was on loan to blackpool, it would be a decent signing for palace to go for him in the summer, with zaha moving on and ipswich barely playing him.

  7. JET was well known to be a party animal. Had he worked as hard on his fitness and game than on his partying antics, he would still be at Arsenal and in the first team. Right now he is pissing his talent away and bar a fantastic change in attitude I am willing to bet than he will never play higher than championship football. If you can’t command a place at lowly Ipswich League One or League beckons.
    Holloway also told him that he had all the talent in the world, but without hard and dedication he would not get anywhere. I guess he still hasn’t understood the message.

    Kerrea Gilbert was another wanna big player with a big attitude problem whose career has crashed and burned because of his entourage full of two bobs criminals.

    The one I feel sorry for is Ryan Garry who was so talented and hard working. Injuries caused by another criminal tackle robbed us of very fine player.

    Ben Chorley and James Dunn may have been decent at Youth level, but it was quite clear early on that they would never make the grade at Arsenal. I remember Ben Chorley being annoyed of not being offered an opportunity to play when Igor Stepanovs was stanking the place.

    1. Valentin, I couldn’t put it better myself. Gutted with the attitude issues of some players and especially gutted for Ryan.

  8. James Dunne has done quite well for himself. When I saw him play for the reserves his style of play stood out as being quite un-Arsenal, not the best technically but gave 100% and went in with lots of flying tackles. I’m surprised a player of his type was given a scholarship with us in the first place. But the fact that he’s now carved out a career for himself in League 1 is testament to his commitment and hard work, while more technically gifted players struggle eg. Randall plays in the division below and vastly more gifted players like JET play for struggling clubs only one division above.

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