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June 2021

Congratulations for Ainsley Maitland Niles: the first ever Arsenal player to win a World Cup for England

By Tony Attwood

Ainsley Maitland-Niles joined Arsenal aged six and has come up through the Hale End Academy.  He moved into the under 21s in 2013–14 season, just one year after playing in the under 18s for the first time, and signed a professional contract with Arsenal on 24 October 2014.

He made his first professional appearance on 9 December 2014, aged 17 years 102 days in the Champions League game against Galatasaray, coming on for Ramsey at half time in a 3-0 win.  As such he was the second youngest Arsenal player in the Champions League (Jack Wilshere being the youngest).   Four days later he played for Arsenal in the League after coming on for the Ox in a 4-1 win over Newcastle.

Since then he has played for Ipswich for a season (2015/16) and this last season he started for Arsenal for the first time against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup.  He also played against Southampton in the League Cup, and so was part of the squad that won the cup this past season.  He played against Preston in the FA Cup last season, also came on as a sub against Sutton in the fifth round.

Now he has entered the all-time history books as the first ever Arsenal player to play in a world cup final.  The only man who approached that was George Eastham who was an unused substitute for England in the World Cup final of 1966.

In this game today England took the lead in the first half, and Freddie Woodman saved a penalty in the second half, to give England a 1-0 win in the Under 20 World Cup Final against Venezuela.   England went on to wint the game 1-0.  It was of course England’s first world cup triumph since 1966.

Ainsley came on for England on 71 mins in replacement of Lookman, and so has his claim to have won the World Cup.

Here’s his record so far – the games number for Arsenal represents League games only.

Years Team Games Goals
2014– Arsenal 2 0
2015–2016 Ipswich Town loan 30 2
2014 England U17 3 0
2014–2015 England U18 4 1
2015–2016 England U19 11 2
2016– England U20 11 1

Of course there is never any telling how well a player develops, and which ones finally make it in the end but he is still only 19, and so can stay with the first team squad without affecting the “25”, and players under 21 don’t count.

Total congratulations to Ainsley as the first ever player from Arsenal to represent England in a world cup final, and let’s hope that the progress we have seen from him across the years will continue for many more years to come.

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27 comments to Congratulations for Ainsley Maitland Niles: the first ever Arsenal player to win a World Cup for England

  • Clockendrider

    First Arsenal player to win a World Cup? Er, no. First ever player to represent England and win a World Cup. Yes. But then only at u 20. Well done to Maitland Niles. Not sure this is really worth bragging about.

  • AlanMac

    I’m with Clockendrider, I can think of a number of non-English Arsenal players with WC wins.

  • Arinze

    All of you need to be sacked for this piece on. Maitland Niles being the only Arsenal player to win a world cup ?.Ozil, Mustafi, Per, Podolski et al, Cesc…

  • My mistake indeed. In the original copy it said “for England” at the end but somehow in the cut and paste that sent it across to Word Press for publication the “for England” got left off the end of the headline. A silly thing not to notice – the glass of wine at lunchtime is almost certainly to blame – apart of course from my own stupidity.

    Anyway, thanks, I have corrected the error now.

  • para

    Ainsley Maitland Niles
    Welcome to the first team this coming season.
    He seems a patient, determined, focused and knowledgable young man, and i wish him all success for Arsenal.

    Seems a little more adept(clean) at tackles than Xhaka, but let’s see how the refs react to him.

    So many Alexis “finalises” deal to Manc reports( must be manc supporters let loose again. 🙁 🙁 )
    Dont think so, but if Alexis has/is forced to stay he will play even if upset, because that is just his nature to want to play.

    Is he on the radar?
    Should be from what i see. He has a directness that is good and reminds me of his namesake.

  • Leon

    ….Petit, Veiera

  • Arinze, if everyone got sacked for every mistake they ever made no one would ever be left doing anything. Are you quite sure you have never ever ever made a cock up ever. Lucky you if so; a superman is among us, albeit one without any imagination.

    Anyway, see my other reply as to what happened.

  • MikeT


    George Eastham wasn’t an unused sub in the 1966 WC final . In 1966 there were not substitutes .

  • I find this quite informative – I’ve received a ton of abuse for that mistake in missing two words from the end of a post, and it seems no one with the imaginative ability to guess that those words were missing.

    I rather think that in days gone past people would take a moment to understand the error and account for it – knowing that all of us make mistakes. But now it seems this doesn’t happen.

    What does it say about me? Obviously I’m a person who can make a mistake. But I think everyone who has been here before can see that.

    What does it say about the many people who poured in with abuse (obviously most not being published here because it was rather dull, unimaginative abuse, and these days we only publish about 10% of the comments we get)?

    I don’t shy away from the fact I made a silly mistake, but I do ponder on the lives that people who rush in with dire condemnation actually live. Maybe they are superbeings who never make an error.

    Or maybe they are just prats.

  • Leon

    To be fair Mastafi wasn’t actually an Arsenal player when he was in the German World Cup winning squad, joining us two years later, but he’ll probably be in the next one while still our player.
    See how easy it is to make a mistake?

  • Clockendrider

    You’re right Tony. We should all have known what you had left ou and it’s all our fault.
    Take it in the chin man and move on.

  • para

    I was thinking that:
    the theme of untold is for AW to be at the helm of Arsenal.

    So please change the picture at the bottom, it looks like he has cleared out his office and leaving with his belongings in the briefcase.

  • Tony
    When you make a faux pas, it`s still worth reading!
    When I (occasionally) look at other blogs, I almost always end up thinking what a prat I am to waste my time with them
    Just think, you`re being nagged, but I wouldn`t waste my time nagging the other blog writers, pointless!
    Just shows what a great following you have

    P.S. I think you can come off the “naughty step” now

  • gbenga

    Tony, despite this slip up, I’m still n ardent reader of your write ups. Keep ’em coming. And forget the mistakes. Who are we without our short comings? Great read all the same.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    My congratulations to the England U20 World Cup team for their beating Venezuela U20 team today in South Korea to lift the U20 World Cup for the first time ever in the history of the competion. In particular I think Ainsley Maitland-Nile’s mother will be pleased to see her ardored young son excelling gradually in Arsenal shirt for club and country after the reported altercation she was reported to have had with Arsenal chief transfer negotiator – Disk Law at the Gunners training ground where she threatened to pull out Maitland out of training if Mr Law will not allow her to be watching her beloved son train. But the good news that followed was Le Prof settled the matter on hearing about the altercation.

    To think of it, Nigeria at 2 occasions had qualified for the U20 World Cup final but lost both finals or didn’t they qualify? I think I need to Google that.

    Anyway, all that’s is left for the 19 years old Maitland to do now is to keep improving on his game for Arsenal as he’s given the chance to play so that he’ll not fall by the wayside as often the case with many Arsenal youth players after showing initial promise they can excel.

  • Nitram


    “You’re right Tony. We should all have known what you had left out and it’s all our fault.

    Take it in the chin man and move on.”

    Oh, you mean just like you did with this petulant little

    “Oh grow up man”

    comment, when I pulled you up on this snide little dig:

    “The Tories really are like Arsenal – always keen to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    that had absolutely no basis in fact.

    ‘Grow up man’ ‘Take it on the chin man’

    Good at telling people what to do aren’t you.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Untold makes very few of these mistakes, and we are all allowed a few here and there. No worries at all, Tony.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Congratulations to the man, absolutely fantastic achievement for him and the team.

  • omgarsenal

    Clockendrider and Arinze…..don’t go off topic with stupid remarks nobody wants or needs. One of our youth players won an international Cup, no mean feat considering! Celebrate and leave the bullshit attitude at home with your aaa scarves!

  • Knobby

    Tony Attwood is nearly human shock!

    I suppose the first Arsenal player to win a world cup (whilst not at Arsenal yawn) was Alan Ball.

  • Knobby

    Oh and congratulations to Ainsley and the rest of the England team.

  • para

    That picture? Anyone?

  • colario

    Some great pics para. Thanks.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I don’t think I’ll will ever have the pleasure of seeing an Arsenal player win a World Cup with England in this lifetime . Nor even a European Championship.
    Not with the way it is run at present . Not with BIGMOB in charge .
    Not that I could be unduly bothered anyway . I couldn’t even stay awake to watch them play Scotland . I think I lasted about 20 minutes before boredom overtook me !
    They could possible win the Home Internationals if ever it is revived . But then Scotland would be possibly missing after joining the EU . FREEDOM !

  • finsbury

    Congrats to the England u20 squad!

    And lest we forget also to Greg Dyke’s adopted son the blessed knight Sir Harry Kane savioir of the realm, purifier of our precious bodily fluids, who finally scored a goal in a competitive match for England that wasn’t redundant or in a dead rubber.

    Hopefully next time they’ll be able to the next step and win an important football match.
    (You can’t help by note that the England team has a better record when a fit Welbeck was the CF…alas he’s not a pumped up hype merchant).

  • Percy

    True, subs at the Finals were not allowed before 1970. But, George was part of that squad and although he did not get on the pitch at that WCF he, like others in the group, did receive a winners medal in 2009 when FIFA got their act together at long last and ackknowledged all the participants of past tournaments. So, George Eastham, although not playing in the Final is a World Cup Winner.
    I saw him many times, a sublime player.