The story of Sanchez Watt, a street child who joined Arsenal to be free from drugs

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“If you remember, this one player was sent off because of the name.”

1NEWS – The trap of poverty and social problems made Sanchez Watt join the Arsenal Academy. Thanks to football, he avoided the traps of drugs, poverty and crime, although his professional career did not reach the level of the Premier League.

Watt joined Arsenal at the age of seven and has been hailed as the brightest wonderkid after helping the club win the 2008/2009 FA Junior Cup. He was one of the stars on a team that included Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, and Luke Ayling.

In that competition, Watt scored twice in the semi-final second leg win over Manchester City. Then, he scored again after coming on as a substitute in the 4-1 win over Liverpool in the final.

Immediately after the match, direct comparisons were made with another young England winger, Theo Walcott. In fact, Arsene Wenger described Watt as a street player and praised his movement, work rate and quality of his left-footed pass.

For Watt, football was an escape and Wenger was a father figure who facilitated his release from the player’s potential life problems. In an interview with in 2010, he revealed how football saved him from the lure of crime and drug gangs in East London.

“It’s not an easy life in Hackney. A lot of people commit crimes or live on the streets. But, I never liked that life. I know quite a lot of footballers I’ve played with on local concrete pitches and they took the wrong path,” he said. Watt.

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“Some of them smoke or sell drugs. But lately they have said to me: ‘Make sure you keep playing football. It’s healthy and it helps you take care of your family’. I don’t want to be on the streets and end up in jail because drugs,” Watt added.

“Wenger is very intelligent. Very wise. We all look at him like our father. Whatever he says, you know he means it. He gives you a lot of confidence,” said Watt.

Watt burst onto the senior stage at Arsenal in incredible fashion. He scored on his professional debut in a 2–0 League Cup win over West Brom in September 2009. At that time, he capitalized on a rebound from a Carlos Vela shot.

After the game, Watt seemed poised for a long and successful career at Arsenal. Unfortunately, it was the high point of his career at the Emirates Stadium.

Watt then made only two substitute appearances for the first team in the League Cup and scored from a free kick. He was awarded a long-term contract, but he never featured in the Premier League for the Gunners. Instead, Watt was sent on loan at Southend, Leeds United (twice), Sheffield Wednesday, Crawley and Colchester.

At this point, the injury was holding him back. Ankle problems experienced during his time at Southend and Leeds severely limited his playing time and hampered his development.

He was also confronted by the bad news when he was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday in 2011. At that time, they were in League One. And, there, he was barely played by his coach, Gary Megson. He decided not to extend his stay at Hillsborough after only making four league appearances.

“He’s a talented kid but I’m not sure that League One is where his future is right now. I like him, he just doesn’t physically meet the demands of this division. He has a lot to show that he can play at the highest level. doing other things to get him into the Arsenal first team,” Megson said at the time.

Despite Megson’s unflattering assessment, Watt remains confident he can make a breakthrough at Emirates Stadium. “This summer I have to go out and show people what I can do. I’ve been doing extra work during training ahead of the new season,” hopes Watt.

“It feels good to be playing the arsenal way again. It’s good to be back, to be fit and to see other players again. I’m just going to try to do better than I did in pre-season,” added Watt.

However, Watt’s wishes were one-sided. He was instead loaned to a lower club in Colchester. However, there he suffered a hamstring injury and was later released by the club. He has lived a nomadic life ever since, playing in Kerala Blasters, Crawley, Billericay, and Hemel Hempstead Town.

Watt had appeared in the news in 2018. At that time, he was sent off by the referee because he was considered renegade. In reality, it was just a misunderstanding, as the player kept saying “Watt” when the referee asked his name.

Watts and “what” sound the same when pronounced, even though they have different meanings. What (what) is said repeatedly in front of the referee can be considered as a form of resistance. And, fortunately, his team-mate explained to the court referee that his name was “Watt”, not “what”.

Now, at the age of 30, Watt is looking for a new club after parting ways with Wealdstone in the National League, the fifth tier of English football.

Watt also continues to be active on social media. Vocally he is still a supporter of Arsenal. He often encourages his former team-mates. And, most importantly, he supports those who speak out against racism.

(diaz alvioriki/you)

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