World Cup 2022: I don’t want my old pupil to play too well, says coach who trained young US star Yunus Musah

Yunus Musah during the World Cup match between USA and Wales (Getty Images)
Yunus Musah during the World Cup match between USA and Wales (Getty Images)

Former Arsenal youngster Yunus Musah “mustn’t play too well” for the United States when he lines up against mates Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, his former coach said today.

Musah, 19, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Ghanaian parents Ibrahim and Amina. The family moved to Italy with his brother Abdul and now live in Dagenham. Midfielder Musah spent seven years at the Gunners’ academy before joining Valencia in 2019.

Despite 32 appearances in Three Lions youth teams and being the under-16s captain, he decided to don the stars and stripes amid a great deal of soul-searching in 2020. On Monday, he became the youngest player to start a World Cup match for the USA in their opener against Wales.

Trevor Bumstead, who coached Musah at Arsenal, said the youngster, who has a Cockney accent, had four international teams he could have played for including Ghana and Italy. Mr Bumstead, 42, head of football at Buckswood School in East Sussex, also trained England stars Saka and Declan Rice.

He told the Standard: “Being an Englishman, it’s probably the first time I don’t want Yunus to do particularly well. I’ve got three players on the pitch tonight.

“I’m really proud to have played a small part in their journeys. It will be great to see all of them against each other on the World Cup stage.”

On Saka and Bellingham, Musah said: “We are expecting big things from Bukayo and Jude. We are going to have to be on our game.”

Mr Bumstead said Musah was “a great kid” whose “smile literally lights up the room”.

He added: “Then he quickly diverts your attention to his ability as a footballer. Yunus is very, very talented. He will want to win but knows Jude Bellingham very well. Yunus has not done too badly for himself. He was always driven — the first to turn up for training and the last to leave. He wanted to be the best professional footballer he could be. He’s an inspiration to a lot of people,” the teacher added.