Last season Emile Smith-Rowe had the honour of becoming the first player to represent Arsenal at U18 level who was born in the 21st century.
The youngster, who doesn’t turn 16 until July, is one of the latest players to come off the club’s Hale End production line, with the skilful left winger poised to be offered scholarship terms with the Gunners prior to the start of next season.
In an exclusive interview with Arsenal Youth, Smith-Rowe discussed playing for the U18s, his exploits with England at youth level and the Arsenal first-team players that he is most similar to in style.
Like many of his team-mates at Arsenal, Smith-Rowe has been part of the Hale End academy for several years, as he explains: “I started playing Sunday league at five and a half, I had a trial at Chelsea at nine years old before signing at Arsenal aged nine and a quarter.”
The youngster usually operates on the left flank, which he confirms is his preferred position. Blessed with excellent technical qualities, Smith-Rowe believes that his current form at U16 level, which has seen him find the net with regularity this season, is perhaps the best he has played for the club.
He says: “Yes, probably. I’m more confident on the ball and taking more chances.”
While many of his colleagues at U16 level face an anxious wait to see whether they will be offered scholarship contracts for next season, Smith-Rowe, such is his stellar reputation, seems very likely to be offered a deal to extend his stay at Arsenal.