HE MAY only be 23, but with teenagers like Connor Wickham and Premier League novices such as Ji Dong-Won for team-mates, Nicklas Bendtner has become one of the old heads of Sunderland’s dressing room.
The Danish international made 157 appearances for Arsenal, as well as having a loan spell with Birmingham City, before joining the Black Cats until the end of the campaign.
He jokes: “Sometimes I feel like, ‘Where did my youth go!’”
“Then when I look back I have had my fair share of fun as well.
“I have packed a lot in. It feels like in the space of three years I have lived for seven. Joining Arsenal was an easy decision, even if I was 16.
“I did not think my development would go as well if I stayed in Denmark.
“I told my parents I wanted to go abroad.
“We looked at all the options, the way Arsenal played, the way they showed they wanted me and their set-up of the youth system, it made it an easy choice.
“There was quite a lot of interest in me.”
Financial constraints mean Bendtner’s season-long loan is unlikely to be made permanent, but he is determined to have an impact on the Stadium of Light for as long as he is there.
As well as setting an ambitious goals target, he has tried to help the less experienced forwards around him.
He added: “Try to find me any striker who does not see himself scoring 15 to 20 goals a season.
“I feel I can play as a lone striker and I will still be able to score goals.
“I have always been confident but I have never had this chance before, apart from when I was 18 at Birmingham.
“To play alone or with two up front, I feel comfortable.
“I feel like a senior striker now. I see it as my role to help other players.
“Going through the things I have been though from an early age has taught me a lot.
“If I can pass any of that on to the guys coming through I hope it will be a big help, although the strikers seem pretty mature already in the way they think and do things.”