ARTHUR OKONKWO’S Wrexham career has barely begun, yet he has already been elevated to cult status.

It’s rare to see a fan base fall collectively in love with a player so quickly.

There are a few reasons. First and foremost, he’s very good at playing football. Fans tend to take to that.

Okonkwo’s performances so far have shown why Arsenal picked him up, and how he already owns an Austrian Cup winner’s medal at his young age.

His physique plays a big part in his success. That massive wingspan allows him to dominate the penalty area, and take up advanced positions without leaving his near post exposed.

A fine example of this came at Crawley. We were left exposed down the left flank by a counter attack, but Okonkwo was able to leave his goal line knowing that his reach and reflexes would cover a cheeky attempt to beat him at his near post.

That extended the distance he could stretch into the penalty area, and when the ball was pulled across towards a striker at the far post, we pounced and intercepted the pass. Few goalkeepers can confidently cover so much ground safely.

His handling is excellent too. Usually people are referring to the ability to take crosses when they mention handling, but I’m thinking about his comfort at fielding long shots.

The value of this attribute was obvious in the superb wins at Notts County and Mansfield. In both matches, we defended brilliantly, more or less restricting our opponents to shots from outside the box.

In shooting from distance, County and Mansfield were literally playing into Okonkwo’s hands: he receives the ball so easily, absorbing the pace as the ball comes flying at him, that he makes such saves look easy.

There’s a real danger of a keeper spilling such strikes into the danger area, but he absorbs the pace of the ball naturally. His save from Kyle Cameron as Notts County strived to haul their way back into the game illustrated this: the County skipper unleashed an absolute rocket from 25 yards, but Okwonkwo took it comfortably, absorbing the pace of the ball like an airbag.

His languid movements reflect a calm personality which was showcased when he chatted with Mark Howard on the latter’s excellent “Yours, Mine, Away” podcast. Okonkwo is a likeable character: a cool customer whose calmness is as reassuring to his defenders as his personality is attractive to supporters.

The one concern we have about Okonkwo is around his future. The intention was to sign him permanently, but the time constraints of a deadline day deal meant we ended up signing him on loan for a season, hoping to make the move permanent when his contract expires next summer.

Some fans are concerned that Arsenal, his parent club, might recall him in the mid-season transfer window, as they did last season when he was withdrawn from Crewe Alexandra.

However, that seems highly unlikely. He was recalled because an offer to play at a higher level was made, so Arsenal sent him to Austria to further his development.

It would appear that The Gunners don’t intend to offer him a new contract. If that’s the case, they have nothing to gain from bringing him back to North London.

Obviously, that contact expiration will make him a free agent, and a full season of exposure at Wrexham will alert scouts to his quality. We have the advantage of being able to discuss a permanent deal in January, having given him a taste of what the club has to offer. However, there are bound to be offers from higher divisions, so we need to make sure he sees the benefits of sticking around.

Those benefits are rather obvious, though. We’re no longer a selling club, as we can offer players so much now: the potential to rise up the divisions; the adulation of a rapidly-increasing fan base; competitive wages; and the opportunity to rub shoulders with A-list celebrities.

Okonkwo is on show this season, but he’s already found a place where he’s loved. Hopefully that will influence his decision once it comes to deciding his long term future.

We return to league action this weekend, and we have a positive home record against our opponents.

Gillingham have won just two of their 17 games in North Wales, whereas we’ve won 11. Their last game here in May 2000, was the most significant clash between the two sides.

Gillingham needed a win to secure promotion to the Championship for the first time, while the crowd was swollen by Burnley fans who were supporting Wrexham, as a home win would allow them to snatch promotion instead.

In the 12th minute Wrexham scored the only goal of the game, a remarkable 30-yard strike by Mark McGregor which won the goal of the season award.

Gillingham’s fans were buoyed by the news that Burnley had also fallen behind, but the Lancastrians fought back to win.

There was a happy ending though: Gillingham came from behind in extra time to clinch victory at Wembley at Millwall’s expense.