I'm schoolteacher to Arsenal star who made Premier League history… he handed in his homework the next day without a word | The Sun

ETHAN NWANERI rewrote history as the Premier League’s youngest player aged just 15.

And less than 24 hours later, he still handed in his English homework on time.

The Arsenal sensation replaced Fabio Vieira in the 92nd minute of the 3-0 win away at Brentford on September 18, 2022.

At 15 years and 181 days, he smashed the previous record held by Harvey Elliott. 

Nwaneri stepped on to the Gtech Community Stadium pitch just before 2pm on that memorable Sunday.

By 9am on Monday, though, he gave his weekend work to Elle Bewley at St John’s Senior School in Enfield without a mention of his record-breaking exploits the day before.



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Bewley told SunSport: “It was a surprise. The head of English messaged me to say Ethan is on telly and just made his debut. 

“I am quite ignorant when it comes to football but my husband was really impressed! 

“I'm not joking, he just walked into school on the Monday, gave me his homework, sat down and got on with it. No discussion, no distraction. Nothing.”

St John’s Head of PE Jason Hodgson, who picked Nwaneri for the school’s football scholarship programme, remembers the big moment vividly. 

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He said: “It was crazy. I'm mad on fishing and I was at a lake listening on talkSPORT. 

“I was shouting, 'Get him on!' The older fishing guys were asking what was going on. I said, 'My boy's on the bench for Arsenal, I want him to get on.' 

“I was buzzing. Playing for Arsenal at 15… mental isn't it? 

“Obviously, the whole school loved it. He was in as normal on Monday, straight back to lessons with no special treatment. Football is secondary here.

“We set out to be a safety net for boys who are trying to be pro footballers but we know that only 0.01 per cent make it and the rest don't.”

Nwaneri’s behaviour on that whirlwind Monday came as no surprise to his teachers.

Ms Bewley taught him for GCSE English, with Macbeth, Jekyll and Hide, An Inspector Calls and a poetry anthology all on the syllabus. 

She continued: “What stands out about Ethan is that he was never boastful. I never heard him speaking about football. 

“For our GCSE spoken language endorsement, I even urged him to do it on football because they choose a topic they’re really passionate about. 

“He could have taken an easy way out but chose not to and did it on conspiracy theories. He went off and did the research.

“Ethan was very much an all-round student, very intelligent. He’s a really responsible young man. 

“Quite often Ethan chased us for extra revision and did extra papers at home.”

Nwaneri was clearly as committed to performing in the classroom as he was on the pitch before finishing Year 11 in the summer.

Alexander Tardios, headteacher at the £16,500-a-year selective school, said: “The boy scored 98 per cent in the school entrance exam, his speciality is mathematics.

“He is a very academic boy. He could easily end up at King's College or UCL.

“Once Ethan was at London Colney training with the Arsenal first team. There was meant to be a second training session but it didn't take place. 

“He booked himself an Uber to St John's, sat his mini-tests then went back to London Colney. I've never seen a boy that would do that but Ethan Nwaneri is special.”


It was not just Nwaneri taking his education seriously, but his parents too.

Tardios claimed Ethan’s dad said that if his son didn't perform in his end-of-year exams, he was going to stop him from playing for England.

Ironically, Nwaneri ended up sitting some of his GCSEs in Hungary while away representing the Young Lions at the Under-17 Euros. 

Playmaker Nwaneri scored the winner in England’s opener against Croatia, setting them on their way to topping Group D before a quarter-final defeat to France.

An England coach even helped with revision in between training and matches, with the pupil taking one maths test the morning after a game. 

Science teacher and Arsenal fan Theo Vrionides said: “I didn't contribute anything to him being a star. Maybe I can say some of the physics could come into it! 

“He's obviously determined to succeed and I think he will. Expectations are high. 

“It would be great to see him line up with Bukayo Saka. It is a nice feeling to actually know Ethan and say we've had some contribution as teachers.”

Now with his school education behind him and full-time focus on football, Nwaneri will be gunning for more success after signing a professional contract under Jack Wilshere at Arsenal and starring for England at the U17 World Cup in Indonesia. 

Hodgson has seen his fair share of quality young footballers, including 11-year-old goalkeeper Sammy Thompson, who is already training with Tottenham’s U21s. 

The Head of PE, though, insists “animal” Nwaneri stands out above the rest after witnessing him tear countless opponents to shreds.

That included an outrageous piece of skill for one of his five goals as St John’s were crowned Enfield Borough champions.

And Hodgson believes Nwaneri can team up with Jude Bellingham to lead England to glory.

I honestly believe Ethan will play for England… we've got to win something in the next ten years

He added: “I've been teaching 25 years and coaching a lot longer than that, Ethan is the best kid I've ever seen by a country mile. 

“He was ridiculous. We went to a school in East London: kick-off, Ethan got the ball, scored, repeat. Their manager asked me to take him off so I did at 8-0.

“His year group wasn't that good but he played with the year above to win the cup. 

“There is literally no point playing at his age, he was too good even at Arsenal. You can't get the ball off him. The kid's amazing. 

“This must be what Bellingham was like. I think he's got that potential. It is awesome. 

“I honestly believe he will play for England, he is going to be the nextSaka and Bellingham. I'm hoping to get tickets for the 2026 World Cup.

“I'm so excited for England, we've got to win something in the next ten years surely.

“Ethan, work hard, play hard. You’re going to have a lot of money! Keep yourself grounded.”

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