The Nelson and Sancho story

Jadon Sancho is lighting the footballing world up right now. Following in the footsteps of his teammate Marco Reus and clinching the Bundesliga player of the month for November, he recently earned his first England cap at just 18 years of age.

Leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund, he has already had somewhat of a career revival, even before it began. City have arguably the best attack in the world, but even with the plethora of talent that is at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, the tricky winger would definitely get some game time for the Citizens, so where did it all go wrong?

England players seem to never peak abroad, always saving their best years for home soil. There can be exceptions for this, such as David Beckham and Steve Mcmanaman. However, with whispers of a £100 million target on his head, and flourishing at a top European club who gave him his much deserved start, it seems as if Sancho is set to stay at Dortmund for the foreseeable.

Along with Reiss Nelson who is loan at Hoffenheim from Arsenal, they are tearing up the rule book for youngsters finding their feet abroad, and it’s a trend that could be ever more likely as talented youngsters in their native England struggle to get game time.

He and Nelson are very much held in the same regard, explosive wingers who get you off your seat and game changers in the blink of an eye.  

After Joining Watford at just seven years old, Sancho spent another seven years with the Hornets, before leaving for oil-rich Manchester City in March 2015, for a reported £500,000. After beating Arsenal and Chelsea to the winger’s signature, Sancho was highly regarded in City’s youth setup and Khaldoon Al Mubarak assured Sancho that he would be fast-tracked in to the senior set up in May 2017.

Nelson’s journey very much mirror’s Sancho’s, he signed for Arsenal when he was nine years old and was touted as a star from the start. Frequently appearing for squads above his age, it was clear he was a special talent. On his 17th birthday, Nelson was rewarded with his first professional contract and was then included in Arsenal’s 2017/2018 pre-season tour.

Sancho wasn’t as lucky and was excluded from City’s tour. Contract talks then soon broke down and Sancho looked as if he was actively looking to force a move from City, and that move came in the shape of Dortmund. 

Following similar career paths, Sancho and Nelson triumphed together at the Southwark London Youth games, with their team winning the under 11 tournament. Not even in secondary school yet, Sayce Holmes-Lewis, who coached them in that tournament, knew these two would be future stars. In an interview with Mirror football, Holmes-Lewis thinks back to that tournament and how he pointed them out as special talents: “Jadon and Reiss were both phenomenal players. You knew they would go into the professional game. They were different from anything out there and had this ability to manipulate the ball at a young age”

“At times, because of their friendship, it was telepathic between them on the pitch. They had so much flair but wanted to work hard and had that aggressive nature also because of where they grew up.” Holmes-Lewis said in his interview with Mirror football. Similar players learning under similar systems, Nelson and Sancho continue to excel, just in a different country.

By 16, both had donned the white England jersey and were starting to make a name for themselves. It wasn’t before long their names were starting to make their way around the football community, two young Englishmen on the brink of first team football before even finishing their exams.

Yet Sancho was fed false promises, and got his move to Dortmund, which many people thought he was taking a huge step backwards. The Premier League 2 was still in its infancy, and Nelson was plying his trade there for the meantime.

Manchester City fans were disgusted with the teen’s behaviour, Sancho rejected £30,000 a week, which for 17 year old was obscene money. They wanted him released, labelling him a disgrace. 

Others saw this as a young player making an intelligent move, not phased by the allure of money being thrown at him. He prioritises playing time and forging a career from his talent over money, which for a young player is seen as a rarity nowadays.

After a summer saga, Sancho was destined to leave. And, in late august, made his switch to Dortmund. 

Although Sancho’s promising career saw him leave the Etihad without appearing for the first team, Nelson was comfortably making his way up the ranks in North London, pivotal in his teams Premier League 2 triumph, he was to make his bow for the first team at just 17 years of age.

Sancho’s raw talent was shining in Dortmund, he scored his first goal for the club against Bayer Leverkusen in April 2018, and, in the same game bagged two assists as well. 

Both Dortmund and Arsenal underwent personnel changes in the summer, after some poor managerial choices in Germany, Lucien Favre was bought in whilst Unai Emery was bought in at Arsenal. 

After signing a long-term contract with his boyhood club, Nelson was off to Hoffenheim to learn under one of Europe’s top emerging coaches, Julian Nagelsmann.

Nelson took to Germany just like Sancho, scoring just 14 minutes into his Bundesliga debut, going on to score against Franfurt, Leverkusen and Augsburg. A man of the match display against Nuremburg, in which he scored a brace, Nelson was in scintillating form. And along with Sancho, it’s clear these two are rewriting the rule book for English youngsters.

Mason Mount had made some headway in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem, and his move to Derby to work under Frank Lampard has seen the youngster impress, and with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek breaking in to the Chelsea first team, the future is looking bright for England. 

As of November 2018, Reiss Nelson has six goals in 11 outings, which has seen him pick up Bundesliga ‘Rookie of the month’, with Sancho winning the Bundesliga player of the month, and making his full England debut, these two young English wingers are taking the league by storm.

Not resting on his red-hot form, Nelson said: “It’s going well so far, but I’ve just got to keep it up. It’s not just for the six games, I’ve got to do it throughout the season.”

Where do you see these players ending up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!