By Chris Wright
Ten years ago, Cardiff (and England) striker Jay Bothroyd was told by Arsenal’s head of youth development Liam Brady that he would never play for the club again after the tempestuous teenager threw his shirt at coach Don Howe after being substituted during an Under-19 match.
Bothroyd duly moved on to Coventry and, via stints with Perugia, Blackburn, Wolves, Charlton and Stoke, has now finally settled at the Bluebirds – scoring 15 goals already this season and finally beginning to convincingly deliver on his often latent potential.
After learning of Bothroyd’s call-up to the national side, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was quick to congratulate his former player – hinting at a certain amount of remorse in the way his fledgling career at Highbury was curtailed so abruptly:
“He is one of my regrets, he left very early. But I have said many times it is important a guy has a good career, even if he goes somewhere else.
“It is better than having to play in the reserves. He went down but has come back up again and we are all very proud of him at Arsenal.”
Wenger also revealed that he had little to do with the decision to move Bothroyd on, and that he believes the striker has matured into a fine player:
“The incident didn’t happen in the first-team group, it happened in the youth team.
“(Liam) Brady is responsible for that. They made the decision and I didn’t stand in the way because it was a disciplinary matter.”
“Sometimes it is only later they realise they not only have to have talent, but need to work as well.
“Sometimes to go down to the Championship, there is no better education.
“It is true, he had a little outcome that you can have when you are 16 or 17 but he is a good guy, and he is classy; left-footed, strong body, fantastic technique.”
You can’t help but feel that Niklas Bendtner should take note.