Whatever happened to #6… Stokes, Rodgers, Stack, Holloway, Fabregas


ANTHONY STOKES 

Signed scholarship: 2004. Arsenal apps: 1. Subsequent career: Sunderland, Sheffield United (loan), Crystal Palace (loan), Hibernian, Celtic. Republic of Ireland international.

A strong, powerful centre-forward who perhaps would have made more than just a solitary senior outing for the Gunners were it not for the presence of Nicklas Bendtner and Arturo Lupoli, Stokes has carved out an impressive career for himself at a relatively high level. After a hugely impressive loan spell at Falkirk, he was let go by Arsenal, who recouped £2million by selling him to Sunderland, the side against whom he made his competitive debut for the Gunners. Despite scoring a couple of impressive goals under the stewardship of Roy Keane, he was faded out at the Stadium of Light, with his perceived drinking problems of real concern. After a couple of loan spells he made a permanent switch to Hibernian, where he impressed, earning him a move to Celtic in 2010, for whom he has been a regular scorer. Occasionally called up by Republic of Ireland at international level, Stokes, who does not turn 25 until July, can be proud of his achievements thus far.

PAUL RODGERS

Signed scholarship: 2006. Arsenal apps: 1. Subsequent career:  Northampton Town, Newport County, Billericay Town.

A versatile defender who is quick across the ground but always liable to make a costly mistake, Rodgers’ only senior outing for the club does not bring back fond memories. The former England youth international started away to Burnley in the Carling Cup but was withdrawn at half-time following a poor performance. Seeking to re-build his career, Rodgers ended the 2008/09 season on loan at Northampton Town before making a permanent switch to Sixfields that summer. After two relatively impressive seasons with Northampton, he was surprisingly let go in 2011, subsequently dropping into the non-league with Newport County. He can now be found playing for Billericay Town in the Isthmian League Premier Divison.

GRAHAM STACK

Signed scholarship: 1998. Arsenal apps: 5. Subsequent career: Reading, Leeds United (loan), Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan), Plymouth Argyle, Blackpool (loan), Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan), Hibernian, Barnet. 

Now 31, Stack played the entirety of Arsenal’s run to the Carling Cup semi-finals in 2003/04 and was also on the bench for several league games during the club’s sequence of 49 unbeaten games, including the title-clinching fixture at White Hart Lane. Much of his time at Arsenal was spent on loan, however, which included an altercation with a pitch-invading supporter whilst at Belgian link club Beveren. He eventually joined Reading on a permanent basis in 2006, but failed to make a league appearance for the Royals, instead experiencing further loan spells before ending up at Plymouth Argyle where, again, he struggled to make an impact. He has experienced regular football in the last four years, however, firstly for Hibernian, and now for Barnet, who were recently relegated from League Two.

CRAIG HOLLOWAY 

Signed scholarship: 2000. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Farnborough, Southend United, Ebbsfleet United, Chelmsford City, Braintree Town, Bromley, Welling United, Margate.

A goalkeeper who failed to make a senior appearance for Arsenal, Holloway did make the matchday squad on several occasions, including for a Champions League trip to Valencia. However, it seemed he was destined for a career in the lower echelons of the game and he has spent over a decade traipsing around various non-league clubs. He now runs his own goalkeeping academy, whilst still playing for Margate in the Isthmian League.

CESC FABREGAS

Signed scholarship: 2003. Arsenal apps: 303 (57 goals). Subsequent career: Barcelona. Spain international

Nobody needs to be told the story of the Spaniard’s career, but it remains something of a technicality that he can still be referred to as a product of the Arsenal youth system despite spending the vast majority of his formative years with Barcelona. Plucked from La Masia in 2003, Fabregas was a regular in the first-team the following season and continued to develop apace before eventually being granted captaincy of the side in 2008. It was inevitable that he would eventually return to Barcelona and that day finally came in 2011, but the World Cup and European Championship winner may well make the switch back to North London in the future.

 

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