Emile Smith Rowe has described his first call-up to the senior England squad as a ‘dream come true’ after his outstanding Arsenal form was rewarded with a place in Gareth Southgate’s set-up ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Albania.
It has been a whirlwind 12 months for the Hale End Academy graduate, who only made his first Premier League start in last Boxing Day’s win over Chelsea, during which he gave a near flawless display in a 3-1 victory.
Smith Rowe has hardly looked back since and committed his future to his boyhood club in the summer by signing a new long-term contract, inheriting Mesut Ozil’s No.10 squad number in the process.
The 21-year-old has been the stand out player over the course of Arsenal’s unbeaten 10-game run in all competitions and crucially added a regular supply of goals and assists to his game.
Smith Rowe is now firmly established as a key component of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal rebuild, but things could have transpired very differently after the gifted playmaker revealed he slipped through Chelsea’s net during the formative stages of his career.
He said: ‘I went in for about three or four weeks but, at the time, I was quite small, really skinny and just kept getting pushed off the balI.
‘I wasn’t getting involved and touching the ball enough. That’s what it felt like, why I didn’t get in.’
Tottenham were also interested in snaring Smith Rowe from Arsenal’s clutches but the boyhood Gooner admitted he couldn’t contemplate the thought of joining Arsenal’s north London rivals.
He said: ‘Tottenham wanted me when I was 15 or 16 but, as an Arsenal fan, I was never interested. I joined Arsenal at 10 and I was determined to make the grade at my club.’
A reflection of the progress Smith Rowe has made in recent weeks was highlighted by the fact he scored for a third successive Premier League game last weekend, becoming become only the fourth player aged 21 or under to accomplish that feat for Arsenal after Cesc Fabregas, Jose Antonio Reyes and Nicolas Anelka.
‘It’s always difficult when everyone’s talking about you and stuff, but it’s good when it’s in a positive way,’ Smith Rowe added.
‘I try not to look at it as much as I can, I try to stay as focused as I can, but it’s good that I’m getting these positive comments about me.
‘It’s unbelievable to be next to those names and a great moment, but the most important thing was getting the three points on Sunday.’
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