A “cultured midfielder” is how the official Arsenal website describes Ben Sheaf; arguably just what Boro’ were searching for as the January 2018 window came to an end. After arriving from the West Ham Academy, the lad had established himself as a bright young prospect at the Emirates and had already broken into the first team by the time his loan move to Stevenage came about.
With the plaudits he received and the reputation he established, Boro’ unearthed a bit of a diamond by swooping to sign Sheaf on loan in early 2018. And there were no doubt plenty of people eager to see him succeed with his first sustained chance to gain first team experience at League Two level. And that he did, making a good show of it too.
Ben Sheaf: Before Boro’
Sheaf started his career at the Hammers aged 13. After moving to north London, his talents were attracting the attentions of Arsenal boss Arsene Manager for being “always ahead of the game“. High praise indeed, but pressure too; not that it seemed to affect his development with the Premier League club. In October 2015, he got an invite to train with the first team for first time.
His Gunners debut came in October 2017; appearing as a substitute for Francis Coquelin in a 1-0 UEFA Cup win over Red Star Belgrade. By this point, too, he’d turned out at both England U16 and U18 level. Not only that, but he comes from a family where his mother was a leading volleyball/beach volleyball player. Oh, and his older brother is a pro beach volleyball player too. His father, meanwhile, was a county level footballer and his younger brother Max had also turned out for Arsenal.