Whatever happened to #7… Merida, Kilkenny, Barrett, Cruise, Ricketts


Signed scholarship: Summer 2006. Arsenal apps: 16 (2 goals) Subsequent career: Atletico Madrid, Braga (loan), Hercules, Atletico Paranaense.

Much was expected of this skilful Spanish midfielder when he joined as a scholar from Barcelona in 2006 and, after catching the eye on his debut against Boreham Wood, Merida proceeded to enjoy a fine first season at the club, lighting up Underhill with his sublime technical ability. He made his senior Arsenal debut as a late substitute in a Carling Cup win over Newcastle United, then, after a difficult loan spell with Real Sociedad, was elevated to the squad permanently in 2009. He scored excellent goals against Liverpool, in the Carling Cup, and Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, but sought a fresh challenge in the summer of 2010 and elected to join Atletico Madrid. Merida’s return to Spain didn’t unfold as expected, however, as he failed to settle and, after an equally frustrating spell with second-division side Hercules, the Spanish U21 international now plays for Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense.


Signed scholarship: Summer 2002. Arsenal apps: 0. Subsequent career: Birmingham City, Oldham Athletic (loan), Oldham Athletic (loan), Leeds United (loan), Leeds United, Bristol City.

Now 27, Kilkenny is one of several Arsenal Academy graduates to have won a full international cap, having first been called up by Australia in 2006 despite previously representing both England and the Republic of Ireland at youth level. A regular for Arsenal at U19 level and a fringe player for the Reserves by the second year of his scholarship, Kilkenny left Highbury in 2004 in search of first-team game time and found it at Birmingham City, featuring in the Premier League on several occasions. Most of his four years at Birmingham were spent out on loan, however, before he sealed a move to Leeds United in 2008. He was a regular for the Yorkshire club before making the switch to Bristol City two years ago.


Signed scholarship: 1997. Arsenal apps: 3. Subsequent career: Coventry City,  Sheffield Wednesday (loan), Livingston (loan), Falkirk, St. Johnstone, Shamrock Rovers. Retired: 2010.

One of the first graduates of the re-formed Academy to retire, having seen his career come to an end in 2010, Barrett was part of Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup- winning side in 2000 and made three senior appearances for the club before being sent out on loan on several occasions. His association with the Gunners eventually came to an end in 2003, when the striker joined Coventry City, for whom he scored just six times in 55 league outings. He then spent several years in Scotland, with Livingston, Falkirk and St. Johnstone, before bringing his career to a close in his homeland with Shamrock Rovers. He also accrued six caps for the Republic of Ireland between 2002 and 2004.


Signed scholarship: 2007. Arsenal apps: 1. Subsequent career: Torquay United.

Having achieved popularity with supporters due to his famous name, Cruise, a product of the club’s Hale End system and an England U19 international, was a major part of the club’s Premier Academy League and FA Youth Cup winning side of 2008/09, impressing with his overlapping runs from left-back. He made a shock foray into the first-team the following season, making what turned out to be his only senior appearance for the club in the Champions League fixture with Olympiacos, before spending time on loan with Carlisle United the following season. He was eventually released in 2011 and, after almost a year out of the game, joined Torquay United last summer, for whom he featured regularly during his first season.


Signed scholarship: 1999. Arsenal apps: 1. Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City (loan), Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan), Wolverhampton Wanderers, QPR (loan), Barnsley, Toronto FC, Diosgyori VTK, Dacia Chisinau, SV Wilhelmshaven, Shamrock Rovers, Exeter City, Dempo, Quevedo.

Renowned for his nomadic career since leaving the club, Ricketts was once considered one of the club’s most promising prospects, and featured for the first-team against Manchester United in the League Cup before making the surprising switch across North London to join arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. His time at White Hart Lane did not yield too many opportunities, however, and the winger then moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers, again struggling to impress on a regular basis. Since 2008, he has rather faded into obscurity, spending time with sides in Hungary, Moldova and, most recently, Ecuador.





  1. It’s only merida l know Among them. The guy really mess up with his career by leaving arsenal. well that was his choces. Off topic: l love this blog, there is not a single day that pass without me check this site. I love you with passion.
    Arsenal forever

  2. Thomas Cruise is the cousin of my football coach! I reckon he would have made it if he didn’t get injured.

    Weird story: Cruise told his cousin (my coach) that after the youth cup final win vs Liverpool, Wenger went in to the dressing room and said to ALL of them, you’re not good enough. The likes of Frimpong, Wilshere & Coquelin were in that dressing room.

    1. I doubt Wenger said those exact words. He must have said ‘Not good enough yet’ which they can’t have been at the time coz they was kids

    1. This kid looks a real good prospect. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Crowley playing together as they have similar playing styles

  3. There’s no way Wenger would walk into a dressing room and say that to youth players, all 18 or under, Wilshere and Cruise were highly rated at Arsenal. No first team manager/ coach would be that harsh to there youth players after a game.

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