Who had heard of Emile Smith-Rowe before this pre-season started? Only mad Arsenal fans (like me!) who follow the youths as well as everything else Arsenal. Now, after scoring on his full debut against Atletico Madrid and giving an assist on his 18th birthday as the Gunners destroyed PSG 5-1, he is definitely the flavour of the month and hopefully one of Arsenal’s most promising youngsters (and actually we do have quite a few at the moment).
Now the youngster has been rewarded for his excellent performances in Singapore with a new improved long term deal, and there is no-one happier than himself! “To be honest it feels great for me. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of since I was young, so to sign a new contract with Arsenal… I’m just so happy and it feels surreal at the moment.
“Knowing how Arsenal play and knowing the background of the club is something I really look up to. The new head coach really inspires me so hopefully I can get chances in the first team to prove how good I am.
“It’s so crazy! Training with the players that Arsenal have is a dream for me, something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid. To get the opportunity to train and play with them on tour was just an unbelievable feeling for me.
“I just feel so much more comfortable. The players are so welcoming. No one’s tried to leave me out of the group or anything, so when I’m at Arsenal, it feels like a family. Everyone’s just so together and I think that’s helped me so much on and off the pitch.”
It was obviously a euphoric week for the lad, but he knows he is only 18 and he is not looking to turn into an instant star. He admits the reaction after the tour games was incredible, but he also knows he still has a long way to go. “My phone’s been going off so much since that happened!” he said. “Since I got back, I’ve had so many good messages from fans and the support has just been crazy. I’m just so happy at the moment. It was my birthday recently so for me it’s just been a crazy week in general.
“Everyone was just so happy. Everyone was showing my surname, they kept shouting it at me. It was a great feeling for me and I’m still so happy – I can’t stop smiling!
“When I got back to the hotel, I got my phone and the messages they (the family) were sending me said they were so proud of me. It gave me that belief that it’s only just started and now I need to stay focused and keep my head down. I just need to listen to them as much as I can.”
And his family are obviously trying to keep the lad grounded, as stars are never made in one week, so his closing statement was exactly what I wanted to hear. “For this season I’m hoping to play for the under-23s but my main target is to get minutes in the first team, progress, play well and impress the boss so I can maybe get chances in the Premier League one day.”
I like that. Keep your head down, and one day you can become an Arsenal legend. Don’t let instant fame go to your head like so many before you….