Emile Smith-Rowe exclusive interview: I’m more confident on the ball


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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.”

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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.

The hard-working youngster gained some valuable experience of playing at U18 level last season as he featured in defeats against Newcastle United and Fulham towards the end of the campaign.

The step up in quality was considerable, but Smith-Rowe believes that he has benefitted from the experience. “(It was) a big step, it’s harder as the pace of the game was much faster. However I felt like I got more of the ball.”

An exciting player to watch, Smith-Rowe describes his best qualities as: “dribbling, crossing, passing, assists and being a team player.”

Smith-Rowe will soon link up with England at U16 level for the Nike Cup in Florida, as part of which the young Lions will face their counterparts from the United States, Brazil and the Netherlands early next month.

The 15-year-old is eagerly anticipating the experience and believes that playing against different sides will help to improve his game even further.

“For sure, the different styles of play and different formations help me identify the different jobs required.”

After the competition in Florida is over, Smith-Rowe will return to Arsenal and will hopefully feature again for the U18s before the season’s denouement.

The youngster, who identifies Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the first-team players he is most similar to in style, has made some significant strides of late, but there is much more to come from a player who had the privilege of heralding a new era for Arsenal U18s.

4 comments

  1. Wow… I can only say a silent prayer that he turns out to be half as good as this article makes him out to be, imagine a crossbreed of ox and ozil…that is potentially new messi right?

    1. It is exciting to hear of such youngsters but there is an awfully long way still to go. As well as having astounding physical attributes these young players must be prepared to work exceptionally hard, be able to deal psychologically with injury setbacks and cope with the stress of becoming famous. It is this mental toughness that tends to sift those that will succeed from those who will not.

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