Leo Messo is one step closer to realizing his dreams of becoming an international football player after signing a contract with Arsenal Academy. The 10-year-old wonderkid was signed to the academy as part of a scholarship program at Hale End. He became the first signee of this year’s summer transfer window. However, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta says he expects it to be a busy summer with new signees joining the club.

Messo was training at West Ham United before signing to Arsenal. Upon arrival, the young footballer was given a tour of the academy. He also met with academy manager Per Mertesacker in the process. It’s reported that the manager gifted Messo a special FIFA card during their meeting. The pair also posed for a photo that elicited a frenzy on social media. In a post shared by the Arsenal reporter Chris Wheatley, Messo was pictured alongside the Gunners academy manager. They posed together holding a no. 9 Arsenal shirt with Messo’s name on it.

Kenyans on Twitter couldn’t hold their excitement after the announcement was made. Congratulatory messages poured in praising the young footballer. In case his Kenyan roots were not already obvious, social media users were quick to point out that he was indeed from Kenya.


The Arsenal Academy teams play in some of the highest level youth football in England including the Professional Development League, FA Youth Cup, and UEFA Youth League. It’s also one of the most successful academies in England with seven FA Youth Cups and six Premier Academy League titles altogether. The academy signed several African players over the years including some notable names such as Victor Anichebe, Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi, and Eddie Nketiah who have since graduated from the revered Hale End. Many Arsenal legends have also joined the team through the academy.

Messo’s contract with Arsenal Academy has been a hopeful sign for young footballers in the country who aspire to play for international teams. So far, there’s only a handful of Kenyans playing in the European league.