CARL JENKINSON’S heart belonged to Arsenal, but he needed time to become a fan again after a difficult exit from the club in 2019.
Injuries and hard times on loan forced the 2014 FA Cup winner to depart the team of his dreams.
Jenkinson, 31, is always keen to talk about his love for Arsenal and boyhood trips to North London to watch the Gunners.
But after he left the club permanently in 2019 the right-back found it difficult to become a fan of the club again.
He told the Athletic: “It was difficult. I was so sad that it had come to an end.
“I needed a bit of time to get over the fact that I wasn’t a player anymore.
“I think I just needed a little bit of time to become a fan again. It took a while but now I’m safely back in that bracket. And I love it.
“It’s nice. I’m at a point now where I’m enjoying being a fan again.”
The Essex-born star’s time at Arsenal took off when he replaced Bacary Sagna who faced a second broken leg of the year at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Jenkinson thrived at the Gunners for the next two terms earning his first England call-up and securing the FA Cup.
In 2014 he moved across the capital to join West Ham on loan to further his development which went well enough to extend his contract for another season.
However, things took a turn for the worse as his time at the Hammers quickly came to an end due to an ACL injury.
The ex-England star then failed to regain his form and a shoulder injury cut short his loan stint at Birmingham City, ending his Arsenal career entirely.
As a lifelong Arsenal fan, leaving the club was a heartbreaking decision that filled him with grief.
Jenkinson added: “It was hard to leave Arsenal in the end, and I never really wanted to.
“I know my dad would have loved for it to have gone on forever but it doesn’t always work like that.
“I think I realised in myself that I wasn’t at that level anymore to play for a club like Arsenal after I busted my knee.”
The former Gunner went on to play for Nottingham Forest until 2022 before joining his current team Newcastle Jets down under in Australia.