Robbie Burton: Midfielder eyes progress with Arsenal and Wales

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Robbie Burton
Robbie Burton has started all three of Wales' Euro 2021 qualifiers

He is the teenage captain of Arsenal Under-23s whose goal is a place in Unai Emery's senior squad.

Robbie Burton has targets beyond the Emirates, too, as he bids to do his late grandfather proud by playing international football for Wales.

Burton joined Arsenal aged six and has been part of the Wales youth set-up since he was an under-16.

He came into 2019-20 on the back of a memorable summer, when he faced the likes of Real Madrid - who included countryman Gareth Bale - and Bayern Munich during pre-season and won plaudits for his composed midfield displays.

Burton, who will be 20 in December, came close to a competitive bow for the Gunners when he made the bench for their Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest in September.

"I was disappointed not to get on obviously but it was good just to be involved," Burton tells BBC Sport Wales.

"I had a good pre-season with the first team. After that, the manager told me to keep working hard and pushing for a place and to see what happens. Hopefully playing for the first team is the next step for me."

Born in Gravesend, Burton qualifies for Wales thanks to grandfather Peter Evans, who hailed from Aberystwyth.

"He always lived with me from the day I was born," Burton explains.

"I grew up with my nan and granddad in Kent. He was always there for me. He passed away just over a year ago, but hopefully I am representing the country as well as he did.

"He was proud of his Welsh history. He has passed that on to me and hopefully I am doing him proud."

He may have grown up in England, but Burton's commitment to Wales is clear.

"It's all I have ever known," he adds. "I enjoy having the badge on my chest every time I come here and I will give my all for the team."

Burton is with the Wales Under-21 squad for their Euro 2021 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Wrexham on Tuesday.

Paul Bodin's team turned heads by beating Belgium in their opening game in this qualifying campaign, but they are in need of a positive result after subsequent defeats to Germany and - more disappointingly - Moldova.

"We all worked hard against Belgium," Burton says. "That shows what we can do when we all work together."

Robbie Burton celebrates a goal for Arsenal Under-23s
Arsenal Under-23 skipper Robbie Burton (R) has scored three PL2 goals so far this season

Burton, a ball-playing midfielder who is known for his range of passing, was named skipper of Arsenal's under-23 side at the start of this season.

"I think I have always shown leadership qualities," he says.

"Arsenal has always been my team - I have been there since I was young - so to represent them as captain is a good thing for me.

"I enjoy the responsibility that comes with it, it's good experience. You have to keep performing consistently to put your name out there."

Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg joined Emery's coaching staff in June having previously worked in the club's academy, a move which may prove to be good news for Burton.

"Freddie was the under-23s coach last year and he knows me better than a lot of people," Burton adds.

"The knowledge he passes on to the boss is good for us young players. Freddie has helped out not just me but a lot of young players at Arsenal.

"Hopefully I can keep progressing. My aim is to play senior football at my club and also with Wales."

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