Emile Smith-Rowe has burst into the limelight since Christmas and the Arsenal youngster has impressed all and sundry with his amazing skill and foresight in tight situations. He may have been unknown to most fans until this year, but he has actually been part of the England youth setup since playing for the U!6 side five years ago.
He has played in the U17 Euros where England got to the Final, and helped the same squad win the U17s World Cup in the same year. Now the 20 year-old has received his first England U21 call up as part of the Young Lions squad for the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, that starts in just a week’s time in Slovenia.
The Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd has been aware of Smith-Rowe’s ability a lot longer than us fans have, and gave gushing praise when asked about Smith-Rowe’s best qualities. “Honesty is the word that jumps out to me,” Boothroyd said in Goal. “We can talk about all the technical qualities that he’s got, his willingness to work for the team. But he is so honest in what he does.
“He is desperate to please. You can see the little techniques in his game, particularly without the ball, people wouldn’t really associate him without the ball, but his willingness to work, to get into position, to check his shoulders, to make sure he is doing what the coach wants him to do.
“I think probably the key thing for him, what I like so much about him, is his football brain.
“He is one of those players who sees things happening before they actually occur. Sees a pass, runs into a space where he thinks the ball is going to be. We are only seeing the start of him.
“If he can stay fit we have got a real player on our hands there.
“When I spoke to Keith Downing about him, who he was with with the U19s and through other teams in the pathway, all that comes out is what a good character he is, and that’s very important for us as a group as well.”
If he continues his brilliant streak of form then he is sure to be one of the stars of the tournament, and would be great to see how his partnership with Eddie Nketiah works out, as our striker is sure to add to his record goals tally for the U21s. Let’s see how many assists he gets from Smith-Rowe shall we….