The 24-year-old has earned his first senior England call after an impressive start to the season in north London, scoring twice in three starts at the Emirates Stadium.
Nketiah has come a long way from being released with Rice at the age of 14 to making it into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2024 qualifying match against Ukraine.
He and Rice could now be lining up together for the Three Lions after a turbulent youth career.
He said: “It is funny how life works sometimes. We have done the full 360 to be back together. We had different journeys to get here, but we are all on the same path for club and country.”
He further explained handling the crushing blow at Chelsea helped turn him into the player he is today, adding: “I think it did [make me more determined]. I was there from the ages of nine and 14 and it came as a shock to me because I was doing well at the time.
“Declan [Rice] was of that age group as well and had a similar experience. I think it gives you an awakening and just knowing that things can change like that - that you can lose everything you have worked for.
“It gives you that extra bit of motivation and resilience when times are hard. I’m able to dig a level deeper than maybe some people can or don’t want to go into. It’s all part of the experience.
“Some boys might not have experienced it but then they will have had lows in their careers. This was my journey and it has helped me by who I am today.”
Rice is much more established in the squad having performed well at the World Cup in Qatar. He went on to win the UEFA Conference League with West Ham and has well at Arsenal, scoring a crucial 96th-minute goal against Manchester United over the weekend.
Asked whether Rice has already proven he is worth his club-record fee, Nketiah was cautious but full of praise.
He said: “It’s not for me to judge how much he’s worth but he’s a great player and a great lad, an amazing addition to the team.
“He had a wonderful performance, not just the goal, his whole performance. He’s going to help us so much and we’re really happy to have him in the team.
“I get on with him really well so it’s nice to have him around the dressing room. Hopefully he can have a big season and help us a lot this year.”