Nico Yennaris

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Nico Yennaris
Nico Yennaris 2012.JPG
Yennaris playing for Arsenal in 2012.
Personal information
Full name Nicholas Harry Yennaris[1]
Date of birth (1993-05-24) 24 May 1993 (age 25)
Place of birth Leytonstone, England
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing position Defensive midfielder, full back
Club information
Current team
Beijing Guoan
Number 23
Youth career
2001–2011 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2011–2014 Arsenal 1 (0)
2012Notts County (loan) 2 (0)
2013–2014Bournemouth (loan) 0 (0)
2014–2019 Brentford 144 (12)
2015Wycombe Wanderers (loan) 14 (1)
2019– Beijing Guoan 7 (2)
National team
2009 England U17 2 (0)
2010 England U18 1 (0)
2010–2012 England U19 7 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 10:52, 23 April 2019 (UTC)

Nicholas Harry Yennaris (born 24 May 1993), known in China as Li Ke (Chinese: 李可; pinyin: Lǐ Kě), is a professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Beijing Guoan. He began his career in the academy at Premier League club Arsenal and came to prominence in the Football League with Brentford. He has been described as a "rugged, all action defensive player, with a positive, winning mentality" and won 10 caps for England between U17 and U19 level.[3] In 2019, he had naturalized as a Chinese citizen, the country where his mother came from.

Club career[edit]

Arsenal[edit]

Early career[edit]

Yennaris joined the Arsenal Academy in May 2001 at age seven and progressed through the ranks.[4] He began his career as a forward and was moved back into a central midfield position,[5] before being moved to full back.[6] Injuries in 2008 halted his progress and the club were planning to release him just weeks before he signed two-year scholarship deal in 2009.[3] Yennaris won his first silverware with the club when he captained the U18 side to the 2009–10 Premier Academy League title.[7] Yennaris signed his first professional contract in July 2010,[8] but missed much of the 2010–11 season with a long-standing ankle problem.[3]

Professional debut (2011–2014)[edit]

Yennaris received his first call up to the senior squad for a League Cup third round tie versus Shrewsbury Town on 29 September 2011 and was an unused substitute during the 3–1 win.[9] His first team debut came on 25 October 2011 in the following round versus Bolton Wanderers, playing the full 90 minutes of the 2–1 win.[9] After signing a new contract,[10] Yennaris made his first FA Cup appearance on 9 January 2012, coming on as a 33rd-minute substitute for the injured Francis Coquelin at right back, as Arsenal beat Leeds United 1–0 in the third round.[11] He made his Premier League debut two weeks later, coming off the bench to replace Johan Djourou at half time of a 2–1 defeat to Manchester United.[11] Yennaris made three first team appearances during the 2011–12 season.[11]

After signing a contract extension in the summer of 2012,[12] Yennaris made his only appearance of the 2012–13 season in a 6–1 League Cup third round win over Coventry City,[13] playing the full 90 minutes and assisting Theo Walcott for Arsenal's fourth goal.[14] He received his only call up to the first team of the 2013–14 season for a 2–0 League Cup fourth round defeat to Chelsea on 29 October 2013.[15] In the final year of his contract,[16] Yennaris departed Arsenal on 27 January 2014,[4] having made only four senior appearances for the club.[2]

Notts County (loan)[edit]

On 23 March 2012, Yennaris joined League One club Notts County on a youth loan for the remainder of the 2011–12 season.[17] He made his debut with a start in a 0–0 draw with Scunthorpe United the following day.[11] He made just one further appearance and returned to Arsenal early through injury.[2]

Bournemouth (loan)[edit]

Yennaris joined Championship club Bournemouth on 28 November 2013, on loan until 2 January 2014.[18] He was an unused substitute on three occasions and failed to make an appearance for the club.[15]

Brentford[edit]

Injury struggles (2014–2015)[edit]

On 27 January 2014, Yennaris joined League One club Brentford for an undisclosed fee on a two-and-a-half-year contract.[4] He made his debut in a 1–1 draw at Shrewsbury Town on 1 February,[19] but was replaced by Adam Forshaw after suffering a dead leg on 50 minutes.[20] After returning to fitness,[21] he made sporadic appearances through to the end of a successful season for the Bees,[19] securing automatic promotion to the Championship after a 1–0 victory over Preston North End on 18 April.[22] Though he made only eight appearances during the second half of the 2013–14 season,[19] Yennaris received a League One runners-up medal after the final game of the season against Stevenage.[23]

Yennaris made his first appearance of the 2014–15 season in a League Cup first round match versus Dagenham & Redbridge on 12 August 2014, but lasted just 20 minutes before suffering a back injury.[24] After recovering and then suffering a thigh injury in September,[25][26] Yennaris had to wait until 3 January 2015 to make his second appearance of the season, which came in a 2–0 FA Cup third round defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, when he replaced Alan Judge after 88 minutes.[27] A suspension incurred by Jake Bidwell in mid-February looked to have secured an opening for Yennaris at left back, but he managed just one appearance in a 3–0 defeat to Charlton Athletic, before being dropped in favour of left midfielder Stuart Dallas.[28] He spent the remainder of the season away on loan and finished 2014–15 with just three appearances.[27]

Wycombe Wanderers (loan)[edit]

On 27 February 2015, Yennaris joined League Two club Wycombe Wanderers on a one-month loan,[29] which was later extended until the end of the 2014–15 season.[30][31] He showed his versatility, playing in central midfield,[32] right back and centre back for the team.[33][34] He scored the first senior goal of his career in Wycombe's 3–2 final-day win over Northampton Town,[27] which confirmed a fourth-place finish and qualification for the end-of-season playoffs.[35] Yennaris' season ended in heartbreak after a shootout defeat to Southend United in the playoff final.[36] He returned to Brentford after the match, having made 17 appearances and scored one goal for the Chairboys.[2]

Breakthrough (2015–2017)[edit]

Yennaris playing for Brentford in January 2017.

Yennaris made his first appearance of the 2015–16 season in the League Cup first round versus Oxford United on 11 August 2015,[37] starting in central midfield, but he was forced off with a dead leg after 53 minutes of the 4–0 defeat.[38] After returning to fitness, injury to regular right back Maxime Colin saw interim manager Lee Carsley bring Yennaris back to the team in early October and he held onto his place through to late-December, when Colin returned from injury.[39][40] A shortage of midfielders and injury to Maxime Colin saw Yennaris regain his place in the team in mid-February 2016,[40] with new head coach Dean Smith utilising him as a defensive midfielder and describing Yennaris as "a revelation" in the position.[41] He signed a new three-year contract on 16 February and after over two years at the club without scoring a goal,[42] Yennaris scored in wins over Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers in early April and finished the season with 33 appearances.[40]

Despite some injury troubles during 2016–17 pre-season and a long-standing calf problem,[43][44] Yennaris was fit enough for a place on the bench versus Huddersfield Town on the opening day and after coming on for Josh McEachran in the second half, he scored his third Brentford goal on 77 minutes, which proved to be a consolation in a 2–1 defeat.[45] He quickly re-established himself as a starter in defensive midfield and played through the pain of his niggling calf injury.[46] Yennaris scored his second goal of the season on 2 January 2017,[47] sealing a 3–1 victory over Birmingham City with a 25-yard strike.[48] He was the club's only ever-present player during the 2016–17 season (with 49 appearances) and scored six goals.[47][49] On 9 June 2017,[50] Yennaris signed a new four-year contract.[51]

Latter years (2017–2019)[edit]

Yennaris lost his starting central midfield place to new signing Kamohelo Mokotjo early in the 2017–18 season,[52] but regained it in mid-August 2017 after an injury to Josh McEachran and a personal issue suffered by Ryan Woods.[53][54] After injuries to Henrik Dalsgaard and Josh Clarke,[55][56] Yennaris returned to the right back position in December 2017.[57] With captain John Egan out of favour, Yennaris also assumed the temporary captaincy of the team.[57] He finished the season with 44 appearances and four goals.[58]

Yennaris began the 2018–19 season alternating between a starting and a substitute role, before breaking into the starting lineup in October 2018.[59] He made 20 appearances before transferring away from the club in January 2019.[60][61] In five years at Griffin Park, Yennaris made 157 appearances and scored 12 goals.[2]

Beijing Guoan[edit]

On 31 January 2019, Yennaris transferred to Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan for an undisclosed fee.[61][62] He made his debut with a start in a 1–0 victory over Beijing Renhe on 30 March 2019 and scored his first goal for the club on his second appearance two weeks later, with the winner in a 2–1 victory over Henan Jianye.[63]

International career[edit]

Yennaris represented England at U17, U18 and U19 level.[64] He made two appearances in the U17s' successful 2009 Nordic Tournament campaign.[64] His solitary U18 cap came with a starting appearance in a 3–0 friendly win over Poland on 16 November 2010.[64] Yennaris played in six friendlies for the U19s in late 2011 and early 2012, which were scheduled after the team received a bye to the elite round of the 2012 European U19 Championship qualifying.[65] The friendly matches included three appearances at the 2011 Limoges Tournament,[65] which England won.[66] He is also eligible to represent China and Cyprus at international level.[67]

Personal life[edit]

Yennaris was born in Leytonstone, London to a father of Cypriot origin and a mother of Chinese origin.[67] His Chinese name is Li Ke (Chinese: 李可; pinyin: Lǐ Kě).[68] Yennaris' older sister Athena is also a footballer and is a coach and PE teacher at City Academy, Hackney.[69][70][71] He is an Arsenal supporter and was a mascot for a match at Highbury on 16 September 2000.[72][73]

Career statistics[edit]

As of match played 20 May 2019
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Arsenal 2011–12[11] Premier League 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 3 0
2012–13[13] 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
2013–14[19] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 4 0
Notts County (loan) 2011–12[11] League One 2 0 2 0
Bournemouth (loan) 2012–13[13] Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brentford 2013–14[19] League One 8 0 8 0
2014–15[27] Championship 1 0 1 0 1 0 3 0
2015–16[40] 31 2 1 0 1 0 33 2
2016–17[47] 46 6 2 0 1 0 49 6
2017–18[58] 41 4 0 0 3 0 44 4
2018–19[60] 17 0 0 0 3 0 20 0
Total 144 12 4 0 9 0 157 12
Wycombe Wanderers (loan) 2014–15[27] League Two 14 1 3[a] 0 17 1
Beijing Guoan 2019[63] Chinese Super League 7 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 2
Career total 166 15 5 0 11 0 0 0 3 0 185 15
  1. ^ Appearances in Football League play-offs.

Honours[edit]

Arsenal

Brentford

England U19

England U17

  • Nordic Tournament: 2009[64]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]