I imagine when Carl Jenkinson brings out his autobiography, the title would be “Lived the Dream”.
Jenkinson might not have been the best player to pull on the red and white of Arsenal, and was probably never good enough, but he has done what every fan dreams of. Playing for the club he loves.
Over the years some people have criticised him for being unambitious, being deadwood, and calling for him to go. But most real fans will know why he stayed at Arsenal for as long as possible. He loves the club.
In pubs across London, most of us have had the debate. Would you rather play once for Arsenal and not have a football career, or play 500+ games for other clubs but never pull on the Arsenal shirt.
I have always said I would rather play once for Arsenal, and I am sure most fans would agree.
Playing once for the club you love, the club you grew up watching is the dream for all of us. Jenkinson would have been just like you and me growing up.
Playing football in your back garden and pretending to be Liam Brady, Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, or whoever you had on the back of your shirt. The difference between Jenkinson and us is he got to wear that shirt for real, 70 times.
In those days of playing in the back garden or over the park, how many goals did you celebrate whilst pretending to be your hero? Jenkinson got to do it for real n the last day of the 2013/14 season, scoring in a 2–0 victory over Norwich City. It is what dreams are made of.
Jenkinson joined Charlton Athletic as a seven-year-old, signing his first professional contract in 2010. A couple of loan deals followed, firstly to Welling United and then to Eastbourne Borough. Jenkinson went on to make 11 appearances for Charlton before Arsenal secured his signature in June 2011 for a fee thought to be around £1 million.
It was on August 16th that Jenkinson did what we all dreamed of, making his debut for Arsenal in the final qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League against Udinese, as a 55th-minute substitute for the injured left-back Johan Djourou. 4 days later he made his Premier League debut against Liverpool, starting at right back.
For the next 3 seasons he would play over 50 games for Arsenal, regularly being called upon when Bacary Sagna picked up an injury.
He also made his England debut in 2012, coming on as a 74th-minute substitute for Glen Johnson in a 4–2 friendly defeat against Sweden.
On 11 May 2014 Jenkinson scored THAT goal against Norwich.
In 2014, due to Hector Bellerin’s break through, Jenkinson joined West Ham on loan, where he performed admirably becoming their first-choice right back for the season.
Summer of 2015 he was heavily linked with a permanent move to West Ham. Instead he signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal, before rejoining the Hammers on loan for a second season. In January 2016 he suffered a knee injury which would rule him out for a year.
A criticism of Jenkinson is that he has seemingly preferred to stay at Arsenal rather then play regularly elsewhere. However towards the end of 2016 he declared that it was time to move club t o seek regular football.
In the January 2017 transfer window, a fee was agreed for a permanent move to Crystal Palace, managed by Sam Allardyce with whom Jenkinson had worked at West Ham, but the player could not agree personal terms.
The next season he went on loan to Birmingham City in the Championship, where he failed to nail down a regular starting place. The next season he returned to Arsenal, masking 8 appearances in the 2018/19 season.
Jenkinson is the boy from Harlow, raised on the London Essex borders, who went from loan spells in non-league to playing for the club he loves.
Played for Arsenal
Scored for Arsenal
Played for England
Lived the dream