Joe Willock was felt hurt when he had to leave Arsenal back in 2021.
The midfielder moved to Newcastle after spending 17 years at Arsenal, starting in the academy before joining the first team.
He initially signed on loan in January that year, before making his transfer to St. James’ Park permanent in the summer.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Joe Willock reflected on how he has matured at Newcastle, with the midfielder reaping the rewards of his move thus far.
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“I think I arrived a boy and have turned into a man.
Maybe not so much in that short period of time on loan, but making the difficult decision to sign permanently.
“I look back now and I’ve definitely grown up a lot. I was so young and raw.
The loan went really well, but it probably masked a lot of things that I needed to learn, not just football, but about life in general.
“My game has grown so much, but I have grown up too.
I scored a load of goals in that loan spell and that grabbed headlines, but it masked a lot of my weaknesses.”
Having spent such a long time at Arsenal, moving away from the club for good was always going to be big change for Willock.
His departure from north London was far from easy either, as he added:
“I remember that summer going back to Arsenal and I didn’t know what to do.
“I’d enjoyed the loan but to make it permanent was a big call. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave Arsenal.
I probably thought I was going to go back and things would be the same. I’d be working to break into the first team again and everything would be familiar and comfortable.
“When the talk of a permanent move started I wasn’t sure, you know.
The fans probably made that decision easier but also Steve Bruce. He really fought to bring me here, he was great for me.
“We had loads of conversations on the phone that summer. I wasn’t valued at Arsenal, that became clear.
When I had a meeting with them, it was obvious they wanted me to go. Yeah, it hurt.
“I would probably have drifted for another year had I stayed. I’d been there since I was four-and-a-half years old. I’d given my life to Arsenal.
“At that meeting it just felt like my time was up. I didn’t feel valued anymore and that was it, I was going to sign for Newcastle after that.”
Since signing for Newcastle, Willock has scored 13 goals and provided 6 assists across all competitions.