Life In Lockdown – Nketiah talks Last Dance and FIFA

The coronavirus pandemic has seen life turned upside down for millions of people around the globe – and professional footballers are no exception.

In the latest of a new series lifting the lid on how Premier League stars are spending their time during lockdown, BT Sport jumped on a video call with Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah to see how he’s been faring.

How have you been getting your football fix?

Eddie Nketiah: “I have a decent-sized garden so I’ve been playing there everyday, just getting in a few shots. I play with whoever I can drag out of the house so my dad, my sister or even by myself.

“It’s a bit different but I was still able to get some training sessions in.

“I love a cheeky game of FIFA too, so I’ve been playing that. And I’ve been watching a lot of the games from this season that I’ve played in.

“We’ve done some work with the manager and a few of the assistants in watching and reviewing some of the games.”

What TV series have you been watching?

The Last Dance! It’s so good, it’s so inspirational.

“I was waiting every Monday for that to drop so it’s a real shame now it’s over, I saved the last two episodes because I didn’t want it to end!”

Have you been chatting to your team-mates much?

“We’ve been staying in contact with Zoom sessions and we’ve done a few workouts together.

“We’ve also had team meetings, reviewing some of the games so we’ve been in contact with each other a lot.

“Plus I’ve been playing FIFA with Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.”

Who’s been winning?  “[Laughs] Me, of course! Bukayo is the hardest opponent but I’ve been winning all the games.”

Have you been watching the Bundesliga?

“Yeah we’ve been watching a few of the games. Reiss Nelson is good friends with [Jadon] Sancho and I know him too, so we’ve been watching a lot of Borussia Dortmund and any of the games we can really.

“It’s been great to have football on and it’s a good standard out there so it’s been interesting to watch.”

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

“Not really… but we’ve got a piano in my sitting room so I’ve been learning a few keys there. It’s not as easy as picking up skills in football – it’s been humbling!

“I’ve got a few melodies but nothing too big! I’m still in the process of learning.”

Have any of your team-mates got any crazy new haircuts?

“Everyone’s just got the rough look really. A few people have tried their own stuff with buzz-cuts but nothing too wild.”

What have you missed about full-contact training?

“Small-sided games, definitely! That competitiveness, the feeling of winning and playing little games that’s definitely one of the things I’ve missed the most.”

And you must be missing scoring goals?

“One hundred percent. I’m missing those games and being able to play out there in front of the fans.

“That feeling of scoring and winning is unbeatable, so hopefully one day we can get back to that.”

You have a famous celebration of your own, but have you or your team-mates planned any socially-distanced ones for when the Premier League resumes?

“We haven’t worked anything out but we definitely have to think of a couple. We will try and cook up a few celebrations…”

If you had to, which three team-mates would you choose to be in lockdown with?

“Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka. They’re all just so funny.

“I’ve spent so much time with Reiss and Joe anyway, they are like brothers to me. It would be just like staying at home with the family.”

And any you wouldn’t want to?

“No one really. I’d stay away from the worst cook though in case they give me food poisoning.”

How excited are the squad about the Premier League returning?

“Very. It gives us all something to look forward to and for the players, something to focus on and work towards.

“It’s going to be sad not having the fans there to see us and we will miss their support.

“But I hope we can provide some entertainment for them at home and give them something to cheer and smile about. It’s definitely a positive that we are getting back out there.”

Have you thought about what it will be like to score in front of no supporters?

“It won’t be the same. The feeling of scoring with the home or away fans is unbeatable.

“Going through the academy we’ve had a few games in front of empty stands so it might not be as weird but it will still be a big miss without the fans.”

How much have Mikel Arteta and the staff been in contact?

“We’ve been in a lot of contact, a lot of Zoom meetings going through both individual and collective stuff with the boss or his assistants.

“We are all in a group chat and there’s a real family feel about the club.”

Finally, is there anything you will secretly miss about lockdown?

“I might miss being able to have an extra lie-in and not having to wake up as early!”