Chukwuemeka hungry for more after passing Curle's 'test' and netting his first Cobblers goal

Caleb Chukwuemeka.Caleb Chukwuemeka.
Caleb Chukwuemeka.
Teenager has risen through the ranks in first four weeks of the season

Young striker Caleb Chukwuemeka says he is now loving life as a member of Keith Curle's first-team squad this season after admitting he was 'gutted' to be demoted to the youth side in pre-season.

Chukwuemeka's talent has never been doubted by Curle but his hopes of spending pre-season with the first-team were dashed when Town's manager questioned his attitude and an apparent lack of 'hunger'.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, after talking things through with his father, the 18-year-old responded in the best possible way and has been rewarded by Curle. He's played a part in five of Town's eight games so far this season and cemented himself as a genuine option at the top end of the pitch, alongside the likes of Harry Smith and Danny Rose.

“I feel like that was to test my mindset and to see how I would react,” said Chukwuemeka. “Obviously I was gutted not to be with the first-team in pre-season but I think it gave me more hunger so when I got the call-up, I was ready.

“I want to thank the gaffer for having faith. He has put a lot of trust in me and he’s always telling me how good I am and helping me work on things, especially out of possession, and I’m grateful for that.

“My family have helped me a lot as well. My dad has always driven me on and shown me the right path. It’s so good to have them around me to push me and hopefully there's more to come."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chukwuemeka’s impressive rise through the ranks culminated with his first Cobblers goal 54 minutes into Tuesday's EFL Trophy tie against Southampton U23s. Collecting Jack Sowerby's pass, he kept his composure before finding the bottom corner with a nice finish.

“It was a massive moment for me,” said the teenager afterwards. “I saw Sowers get on the ball and I remembered Nicky (Adams) is always telling me in training to bust a gut and make the run into the channel.

“So I made that run and I saw the defender coming towards me. I knew if I could get inside and get into the box I would have a shot at goal and then I made sure I got it on target and luckily it went in!

“I was going to do my usual celebration but people were rushing towards me so I just had to take it in.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Although he always had ambitions of breaking into the first-team this season, Chukwuemeka admits the amount of game-time he's been given so far has come as a surprise.

"I've been a bit surprised to play so much to be honest," he added. "We've got good depth in our squad so it was a bit of a shock to play as much as I have but with the injuries we've had, I feel like you have to be ready.

"Whether you're on the bench or not in the squad, you have to be ready whenever you're called upon and I just want to take my opportunity.

"Being given a taste of it has made me more hungry. The group of lads we have here are always pushing each other and stepping out onto the pitch is a great feeling - you just get greedy for more.

"It was a great feeling to score and once it went in, I was over the moon. I was full of emotions and I saw everyone running at me so I just wanted to take it all in."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.