Arsenal fans will be loving the rise of homegrown star Emile Smith Rowe, and it will no doubt please them even more to find out that their rivals Chelsea and Tottenham both missed out on him earlier in his career.
The 21-year-old has just earned a call-up to the senior England squad after impressing at Arsenal, and it’ll be intriguing to see how he gets on in his time with Gareth Southgate’s side.
Arsenal fans will no doubt be wishing him well, but it’s also interesting to hear him speaking to the Telegraph about his experiences in his career so far.
The attacking midfielder started out at Chelsea but was rejected for being too small, while he also revealed that he turned down an offer from Tottenham at one point because he’s always been an Arsenal fan, despite his dad being a Spurs supporter.
“I was really skinny and just kept getting pushed off the ball,” he said of his time at Chelsea. “I wasn’t getting involved and touching the ball enough, that’s what it felt like at the time, why I didn’t get in.
“When I did go to Arsenal, they didn’t seem to bother about my physicality, but as I’ve grown up I’ve got stronger and tried to focus on pushing people around as well.”
On rejecting Tottenham, he added: “I wasn’t that interested, being an Arsenal fan, although it’s good to have all these teams interested.”
Smith Rowe also spoke about how changing his diet has been key to his improvement, whilst also admitting that he actually enjoyed the period of playing games without crowds as he still gets pre-match nerves.
“What the manager was talking about was my diet,” he explained. “I didn’t used to eat that well, to be honest. I wasn’t drinking that well, before games I wasn’t really that hydrated, but since then I’ve tried to focus so much on it. There’s loads of stuff we should be taking before a game, but, yeah, before I was a bit too lazy.
“They are strict but I didn’t really listen, to be honest, I think that’s where I went wrong. But now I’m listening, all the time. I like Nando’s a lot. Maybe that’s killing me a little bit. And chocolate.”
He added: “No fans being there definitely helped me. I’m always really nervous before the game and not having that pressure of everyone shouting, that helped me a lot. I’m happy with the way things are gone.
“I’m quite surprised, to be honest, that it’s worked out this way. I thought I wouldn’t be as confident as I am at the moment. Two seasons ago, just before I went to Leipzig, it was affecting me. I think now I’m OK.
“It’s mainly in the changing room before the game. That’s when I’m most nervous. I have spoken to some players and they say the same as well.”