By Randy Osae
If Theo Walcott is Thierry Henry, then Jay Simpson is the legendary Ian Wright.
Arsenal’s 19-year-old prodigy – who still has his name untouched in record books for the only hat-trick scored at the Emirates Stadium (for the reserves) – further foiled his glimpses of star quality with another remarkable pair of goals on his first experience with Wenger’s senior side.
Back in the days, he used to dream about emulating a man like Ian Wright – whom he adored so much. Today, Simpson is very much right in the path of making that sort of name after Tuesday night’s Carling Cup performance.
“When I was growing up I used to watch Ian Wright and that’s what made me an Arsenal fan. I had posters of him on my wall.
“I met Wright once, it was quite a while ago at my first Arsenal match at Highbury. I met him in the tunnel and I was starstruck, I didn’t know what to say to him! He shook my hand and I didn’t know what to do! I was nine at the time. He’s still an Arsenal fan and he would have been happy to see the English players out there tonight.”
Come to think of it, Simpson has been more of a flank-man for those who observed his early days at the club’s youth ranks, and even he admits playing the role of a striker needed some adjustment but he feels well on course.
“I played on the wing for Millwall so my runs from wide positions have improved a lot,” said Simpson.
“It was a whole new position to adapt to, especially with how Millwall play because it wasn’t about getting the ball down and playing a passing game. It was about making runs in behind. If I got it to feet you would go down the line and cross it whereas at Arsenal you would normally pass it, so it’s a lot different.
He also revealed the motivation he sought from one of his senior ‘brothers’ at Arsenal’s camp and how last night was a buoyant step in his blossoming career.
“Also I went up and spoke to Emmanuel Adebayor before the game and he gave me a bit of advice which paid off on the pitch. He told me that when I am shooting, just make sure I hit the target, don’t concentrate too much on power.
“I scored a hat-trick in the Youth Cup at Emirates Stadium but this is a lot more special, especially because I am an Arsenal fan. I would have been happy with one so to get two is great.
“Now all of us want a big side, we want to test ourselves. That’s what it’s all about, playing against the big teams, the big-name players and seeing what you can do against them. If we get Manchester United or Liverpool, we’d want them to put out their first team because it would show they’ve got respect for us. I’d be delighted if we got them in the next round.”