Carl Jenkinson might have been identified as one for the future when he signed for Arsenal in 2011, but we’re not sure many people expected that, when the future in question rolled around, he would actually still be there.
The English-Finnish defender had arrived from Charlton with plenty of promise, but he wasn’t the first to make this sort of step up and not quite have the goods to deliver. And besides, seven and a half years is a long time for anyone – other youngsters who signed during the same season or the season before included Kyle Ebecilio (left in 2013), Thomas Eisfeld (2014) and Ryo Miyaichi (2015).
People will have had even more doubts when, in pre-season before his Premier League bow, the full-back scored the kind of own goal for which the only response is “huh? I guess that really happened then”.
Our story begins at 1. FC Köln’s RheinEnergieStadion, where Arsenal were two goals to the good in their pre-season friendly thanks to a double from another of their summer signings, Gervinho. Half-time is imminent, and the players are going through the motions. Well, most of them are, but one man didn’t seem to get the memo.
As the ball is fed forward from the halfway line by a Köln player, there is no danger. Literally none. In fact, they might be less than no danger.
It’s like slamming on the brakes while still in your own driveway. When it’s empty. When your car is stationary. When you don’t even have your key in the ignition.
We say slamming on your brakes. It’s more like slamming on the brakes and flinging yourself towards an open window. No, wait, a closed window.
The best-case scenario here? Well, in the best-case scenario, Jenkinson misses the ball, falls to the ground and leaves the field with nothing more than a slightly bruised ego. Instead, after whatever it is he’s trying, he finds himself heading for the medical centre for some ego-sized gauze and bandages.
We’re not in the habit of bullying a player into using his weaker foot, but we’re pretty sure even an acknowledgement that he owned a left foot would have prevented this catastrophe.
The worst is yet to come, though, as the timing of the goal – right at the end of first-half stoppage time – makes it look like all 22 players are leaving the pitch in pure disgust at what they have just witnessed. Yes, Jenkinson included.
You might be wondering what was going through the head of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny as the ball sailed over him and into the net, via a part of Jenkinson’s leg which even the defender didn’t seem to be sure was attached to the rest of the body.
Well, you’re in luck, as the Pole would go on to recall the incident which – oh, and we should have probably mentioned this sooner – took place on Jenkinson’s debut for the club.
“He was in a horrible mood at half-time, sitting depressed, tears in the eyes” Szczęsny said in a TV appearance alongside former Arsenal teammate Łukasz Fabianski.
Then Boro [former first-team coach Boro Primorac] comes to him, in a friendly game, and his words: ‘Carl! Compliments on your first goal for Arsenal!’.
It’s the sort of goal which would give you a sense of humour if you didn’t have one already, but sadly there isn’t any word from either goalkeeper on how Jenkinson reacted to the ribbing.
We imagine he took it better than he took his first away Premier League game for the club, a humbling 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford during which he was sent off in the closing stages, picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Chicharito.
Or maybe not. After all, while he might have picked up a red card in a thumping defeat, at least his contribution wasn’t the only thing people were talking about.
While Jenkinson remains an Arsenal player, with 67 Gunners appearances to his name in over seven years, Köln are down in Germany’s second tier after finishing dead last in the 2017-18 Bundesliga.
Needless to say, he had the last laugh.
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