At seventeen years old and standing at six feet tall, Daniel Boateng exudes calmness and confidence beyond his years. Daniel is a product of Arsenals fantastic Hale End academy having joined whilst at school at the age of 11. He became a full time member of the academy in the 2008/09 season, and quickly gained promotion from the under 16's to the competitive under 18's. A powerful yet skillful left footed player, he is comfortable playing in any of the defensive positions or as a holding midfield player.
Daniel has also been recently given a huge moral boost when chosen to train with the Brazilian squad in their recent visit to the Emirates to face Italy. Fate lent a hand here, when the squad chosen by Dunga was short of numbers due to injury. A light two touch session with the likes of Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Kaka has given Daniel a taste of what playing alongside the best is like.
soccerhene.com caught up with Daniel to talk about his career thus far, as well as his future career goals.
soccerhene: "Let's start off with the big one. Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaka. Training with such great players, what was that experience like?"
Daniel: "So to be honest it was a great experience,it made me feel so happy because that's a dream of any elite football player. Also, it made me believe how close I am to making it."
soccerhene: "going back to the very beginning, at what age did you start playing and was it something that came naturally to you?"
Daniel: "I started playing at the age of 7. I was not that good initially, but I started playing football at home with my brother gradually I started getting better and in less than no time I was playing for local (broadwater farm) at under 8's. However, most of my talent is a gift from above. My dad's brother also played for a team in germany."
soccerhene: "you ended up in a top academy at Arsenal. Can you tell us how that journey occurred?"
Daniel: "well at the age of 9 Arsenal rejected me so i went back to my sunday league team (broadwater farm). The coach (Classford Striling who has incidentally produced a number of players for EPL teams) told me i was good enough to play for them, that I just needed self confidence. So we started doing extra sessions after training working on everything then a year later Classford took me back and then they signed me."
soccerhene: "what would you say is the most valuable lesson you've learnt so far at the Hale end academy?"
Daniel: "well to enjoy playing football and always giving 110% in everything you do."
soccerhene: "Arsenal is littered with great players over the years, do you get a chance to talk to any of these, and what's been the best advise you've gotten from them"
Daniel: "well to be honest we hardly get that kind of time but my coach Steve Bould is the best man when it comes to things like that because he has been there and done it, also the one thing he says a lot is that 'we can give you all the training in the world but only you can make it happen'."
soccerhene: "season 2008/09 has seen you promoted into the under 18's playing alongside players like Frimpong etc. have you had to adapt your game, and if so how?"
Daniel: "The pace is quicker but apart from that nothings really changed."
soccerhene: "at the youth level Ghana have worldwide respect for producing some fantastic players and teams competing in the world under 17 and under 20 world cups. If selected what would be the qualities that you bring?"
Daniel: "A soild foundation in midfield and in defence also a lot of confidence and a wining mentality."
soccerhene: "you have seen what another 16 year old, Jack Wilshere, at the gunners has done this season. Is he an inspiration, and what are your own career goals"
Daniel: "Jack wilshire, where do i start? yes he's a very big inspiration to me because I hear a lot of people saying Arsenal don't give English boys a chance but its up to us to prove them wrong and Jack is definitely doing that so well."
soccerhene: "it's been a pleasure talking to you, and we'll be following your career with a keen interest"
Daniel: "thanks a lot, the pleasure's mine."
With such intelligence and a calm demeanor, Daniel Boateng epitomizes Arsene Wenger's emphasis on his players having qualities both on and off the field. Daniel is indeed one to watch for the future!