In the summer of 2010, Arsenal signed a 17-year-old Jordan Nobbs who had recently been crowned FA Young Player of the Year for her part in Sunderland’s impressive 2009 season.
Sunderland were narrowly by Arsenal in the FA Cup final in May 2009, but shortly after Nobbs was part of a Black Cats side that actually beat the Gunners in the league. Arsenal were so dominant at the time that domestic defeats were almost unheard of.
When Sunderland were denied entry into the newly formed Women’s Super League, which was due to launch in 2011, Arsenal acted quickest and snapped up Nobbs.
In the decade since, one of the most promising talents of her generation has gone on to become one of English football’s greatest players of all time. Despite 10 years at the top, Nobbs is still only 27.
And while she hails from the north east, Nobbs declared earlier this year when she signed a new contract with the Gunners, “…I’ve got Arsenal in my blood now and I’m very proud to say that.”
She made her debut for Arsenal in the Champions League in September 2010, with the club going on to win the inaugural WSL title in 2011, along with the Women’s FA Cup and League Cup.
The Gunners retained the WSL in 2012, making Nobbs already a two-time league champion by the age of 19. More FA Cup and League Cup triumphs also followed.
On the international scene, Nobbs made her senior Lionesses debut in 2013 and was a fringe player of the squad that disappointed at Euro 2013. But she became more prominent from 2015 onwards, even captaining England to victory at the Cyprus Cup that year.
Although Arsenal and Nobbs suffered a league title drought when first Liverpool, and then Chelsea and Manchester City rose to prominence, Nobbs was at her very best when the Gunners made a blistering start to the 2018/19 season.
Arsenal left the rest in their wake and it was cruel that Nobbs suffered a ruptured ACL in her left knee halfway through the season. Not only did it end her season, it also ultimately ruled her out of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where her absence was felt by England.
The Lionesses reached the semi-finals without one of their very best and most influential players, who was limited to watching the tournament as a pundit and fan. What difference her involvement would have made in a tight semi-final against the United States remains a huge ‘what if?’
Nobbs returned to action for Arsenal in the WSL 10 months on from her injury. She was immediately back among the top goalscoring midfielders in the league as the Gunners once more challenged, even outscoring Manchester City, who led the table when the season was cancelled.
The past has been glittering for Nobbs at Arsenal, but the future is just as bright. She is already an Arsenal legend and in the words of coach Joe Montemurro ‘personifies what Arsenal means’.
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