Jack Wilshere braved the freezing cold conditions at the Emirates on Monday night to watch the Arsenal Under-19 side in NextGen series action as they secured a 1-0 over CSKA Moscow to set up a mouth-watering semi-final against London rivals Chelsea.
Injury prevented the midfielder from travelling with his England colleagues so he took his seat on the Arsenal bench to watch the next batch of youngsters hoping to emulate his rapid rise to stardom.
Wilshere is only a few years older than the majority of Terry Burton's side but he is revered by the academy players. He helped Arsenal win the FA Youth Cup back in 2009 and, after an impressive spell on-loan at Bolton, was soon viewed as indispensable to the first team.
His rise to prominence gives the young players hope that they can follow in his footsteps and, in defeating CSKA Moscow, it was clear that there is genuine talent coming through the academy.
It was a particularly impressive display from Arsenal's defensive unit who coped well with a Russian side that was set up to play fast counter attacking football. Isaac Hayden and Saeed Hajrovic were always in control in the centre of defence, while defensive midfielder Nico Yennaris took up some clever positions in order to snub out attacks.
Swiss full-back Martin Agha continually threatened as he went on a number of marauding runs, particularly in the second half, but it was right-back Hector Bellerin that caught the eye.
The 18-year-old Spaniard was plucked from the Barcelona academy and has worked hard on the defensive side of his game after beginning life as a winger. He had played at right-back on just a handful of occasions before arriving in north London but has quickly adapted to the new role and now offers a genuine attacking threat from deeper positions.
Against CSKA he continually provided hugged the touchline in order to create space for for the likes of Serge Gnabry and Kyle Ebecilio ahead of him. Defensively he was rarely tested but when called upon he demonstrated natural pace and the ability to time a tackle.
Offensively he was a constant danger as he repeatedly got beyond his fellow full-back and it was his neat pass that set up the only goal of the game for Gnabry.
Bellerin admits that he is still adapting to life as a defender, saying: "I'm still learning about being a full-back, but whereas I was anxious and worried about the role, I'm now growing in confidence every day. I now feel like I am a right back, but have retained the attacking qualities of a winger."
Ahead of Bellerin there was plenty to be enthused about as Thomas Eisfeld and Kristoffer Olsson controlled proceedings from the middle of the park. Chuba Akpom performed the lone striker role exceptionally well and demonstrated great power and a good touch in order to hold up the ball and link with his fellow attackers.
German youngster Eisfled almost fired home a wonderful free-kick late in the second half but his curled effort from 25 yards thudded against the cross bar but it was his international colleague that caught the eye.
Gnabry is clearly a player impressing Arsene Wenger, this season he has featured twice in the League Cup, made his Premier League debut and appeared in the Champions League against Schalke.
Against CSKA he threatened throughout the evening with his direct runs, impressive turn of pace and superb control with the ball at his feet. On a number of occasions he ran past defenders and was unfortunate not to open the scoring within five minutes when his diving header was well saved by Sergey Revyakin.
However, in the second half he broke the deadlock as he skipped past one defender before playing a one-two with Bellerin and then collecting the ball in his stride took a single touch before firing the ball home.
It was a well worked goal that had Burton singing his praises. "It was a real moment of class, he manufactured the position well and was very positive in his movement - it was a great finish."
The 17-year-old continually switched roles with Akpom and Ebecilio and was simply eager to see as much of the ball as possible. Despite being predominantly right footed he looked comfortable when receiving the ball on the left and was always a threat when cutting inside.
Over the course of the ninety minutes it may have been Bellerin and Gnabry that stood out but it was an excellent team performance that showed that Arsenal's future appears to be in safe hands.
Their next task will be to overcome Chelsea and hopefully contest the NextGen series final. If they are able to return home with some silverware then they will have been the first youth team to win a major trophy since Wilshere lifted the FA Youth Cup four years ago.
While Wilshere is the sole member of that side regularly playing in the Arsenal first team, there will be a genuine hope that a number of this current youth side can go on to emulate his achievements. Should success arrive in Lake Como then there is no reason why this will be their only success in an Arsenal shirt.