In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. This week we spoke to midfielder Vlad Dragomir.
When I play for Arsenal it is usually as a Number 10 in a way that Ozil plays, or as part of a central midfield two and mostly as an attacking midfielder. But I can play on either wing or as a holding midfielder too.
I enjoy all those roles. I started playing as a centre back when I was very young, around seven, in small sided games on half pitches, so it wasn’t quite like playing the position on a full size pitch and I think I’d find that role very different now.
After playing in central defence, I then moved to the left back position and then left wing when I was about 10 years old. I was moved to the wing because I was very fast but I moved more in field later.
I even play as a striker for Romania if we are 0-0 with a few minutes to go, the manager often sends me into attack. I’m really enjoying football here. I didn’t know at the time but my agent told me that Arsenal were watching me for two years before I signed.
I’m one of the very first from Romania to come to England and that makes me feel proud too. Everyone has made me feel comfortable and I feel that I’ve become a much better player since I joined. I had to adapt straight away.
I remember my first game for the under-18s. I got the ball and within a second a defender had put a crunching tackle on me that in Romania would have been a foul. But the referee did nothing. When I came off the pitch, our coach, Kwame Ampadu said: “Welcome to England!”
I’ve worked hard in the gym to get stronger and everything I do now is quicker and sharper because there is less time on the ball. I’ve also trained with the first team twice which was very strange.
It was odd to be on the same pitch as players that I watched on TV in Romania. I felt like I knew them all. I was a little nervous when I first joined them on the pitch but they made me feel like a team-mate quickly.
Everything in training was so much faster, so much more accurate. It took a bit of time to get used to things. The second time was better and I was a little bit more like myself but it showed me how much of a step up it is and has made me even more determined to work as hard as I can to keep improving.
In one session we had a game and I was in midfield with Mikel Arteta and had Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez in front of me. It was a joy to see how they worked, moved and found positions and made runs to receive passes from us in midfield.
I’ve settled in very well. I live in digs in Cockfosters but keep in contact with family and friends back home. I have come home to enjoy Christmas and New Year with my family and to completely relax and recharge I will switch off all phones, no Facebook, no Instagram, nothing... I am hoping for another Happy New Year.
Three of the best
...positions I can play in
1. No 10 2. midfield 3. left back
...best aspects of my game
1. Vision 2. long passes 3. control
...things I can improve on
1. Finishing 2. passing 3. movement
... players I’m similar to
1. Toni Kroos 2. Luca Modric 3. James
1. Ronaldinho 2. Carles Puyol 3. Cristiano Ronaldo
1. Chicken 2. pasta 3. salad
...best friends in football
1. Jules Keyta 2. Marius Croitoru 3. Flavian Nomo
...choices for your squad number
1. 8 2. 7 3. 10
...most used Apps
1. Instagram 2. Whatsapp 3. FaceTime
...tracks on your ultimate playlist
1. With My Best Friend 2. Don’t Dull (picture) 3. Memories