Rise of Joe Willock and his footballing brothers including “necessary” split

From their childhood Arsenal beginning to all making the grade at different levels in the pro game, the super-talented boys of the Willock family have had an August to remember

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Joe Willock admits he was the weakling younger brother as three talented siblings practiced to become professional footballers.

The new £25m Newcastle United signing is set to make his debut against Aston Villa this weekend to cap an amazing August for the Willock footballing dynasty.

Joe, 22, sealed a mega-money deal to leave boyhood club Arsenal and become a “main player” at St James’ Park.

Chris, 23, netted the winner and an assist to help QPR beat Middlesbrough with his kid brother watching in the stands on Wednesday night.

And Matty, 24, earned himself a contract at Salford City in League Two after a trial… scoring a “30-yard thunderbolt” against Orient two weeks ago.

Chris Willock and Joe Willock playing for Arsenal’s under-23s


David Price)

The boys grew up kicking a football together at the family home near Highbury after their parents fled Montserrat in the late 1990s to avoid volcanic eruptions which forced out two thirds of the population.

And Joe recalled this week: “How competitive were we?! It helped me the most being the youngest. I always had to be the one who had to put the most effort in because I was the weakest and smallest!

“I was always playing with the older boys and with my brother’s friends. I feel like it helped me a lot.

“I was at Arsenal from the age of four and a half. It was competitive even at that age. But my dad tried to take that side away from us and just told us to have fun on the pitch.

“Looking back on it, that was better to do. If you are a kid that young, you can’t put pressure on too much.”

Guided by dad Charles who Joe described as his “hero and biggest influence”, the Willock boys had to go their separate ways to make a living in the game.

Chris went to Benfica B playing more than 60 times before coming back on loan at Huddersfield last season, with QPR paying £750k for him last October.

Willock says: “It was necessary for me and my brothers to split up and go in our different directions. It wasn’t easy when Chris went to Portugal. As kids we shared the same bedroom. It felt like a piece of me had left the family home.”

They did all share a pitch in 2017, Arsenal’s Joe and Chris against Matty who had seven years at Manchester United, in Premier League 2.

Now all three are making their way at different levels and as competitive as ever – with a family at their heart.

Joe once dedicated a goal “to mama, for all the times you worked the late shift… and the times you didn’t eat so I could eat.”

He’s bidding to make it eight goals in eight consecutive games this weekend, equalling Alan Shearer’s club record, and will replace calf injury victim Jonjo Shelvey.

Bruce will use him at Villa Park saying he is “naturally fit” despite only having half an hour game time in pre-season.

Joe said: “I feel I want to put a shirt on and give my all. There is a time for me to step up. I want to play on the weekend, on the bench or from the start.”

Bruce said: “I would like him to have more minutes under his belt. He is naturally fit and is in the squad. I am delighted we have got him.

“He improved us last season and let’s hope he can continue to get us goals.”

Joe Willock in action for Newcastle


Getty Images)

Joe Willock

Aged 22

Born: Aug 20, 1999, Waltham Forest

Height: 6ft1

Position: Midfield

Squad No: 28

Transfer value: £25m


2017-2021 Arsenal 40 appearances, 1 goal

Feb 2021: Newcastle loan 14 games, 8 goals

Aug 2021: Newcastle: Debut v Aston Villa

International honours: Eng under-16, 19, 20, 21

Nemanja Matic of Manchester United in action with Chris Willock of Queens Park Rangers

Chris Willock

Age: 23

Born Jan 31, 1998, Waltham Forest

Height: 5ft 10

Position: Winger

Squad No: 21

Transfer value: £750,000


2017 Arsenal: youth team

2017-2020: Benfica B 64 games 14 goals

2020: WBA on loan 0 games

2020 Huddersfield on loan 14 games 2 goals

Oct 2020: QPR 41 games 5 goals

International honours: England under-16,17,18,19,20

Matty Willock (L) and Wayne Rooney in action during a Manchester United Training Session in 2016


Matthew Peters)

Matthew Willock

Age 25

Born: August 20, 1996, Waltham Forest

Height: 5ft 8

Position: central midfield

Squad No: 14

Transfer value: Free


2017-19 Manchester United youth

Loans to Utrecht, St Johnstone, St Mirren, Crawley

2019-21: Gillingham 18 games

2021: Salford City 2 games, 1 goal

International honours: Montserrat 2 caps

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