First Year Scholar
Born: Stuttgart, 14/07/1995
Height: 5ft 8ins
Weight: 11st 7lbs
A career in football is what Serge Gnabry is working to, but the youngster could quite easily have followed a different path. “I used to be involved in Athletics when I was younger,” reports the 16 year-old. “I was a sprinter and raced throughout Germany. I never lost a race, but it came to a point where I had to make a choice between athletics and football, and my choice was football because that is where I had the most fun.
"I do use my pace when playing football, especially since joining Arsenal as I have tended to play on the left wing, and speed is a valuable asset in beating opponents and racing on to passes.” Theo Walcott is noted for being the fastest at the Club at the moment, but Serge could be in running soon. “Theo is very, very fast and one day in the future we may have a race,” he smiles.
Serge has scored three goals in four Under-18 games, and has an eye for the spectacular. His goals have been taken with aplomb, two of which were struck from long range with extreme power and dip that no ‘keeper would have had a chance with.
“I have a good shot,” he declares. “I practice my shooting a lot and if the shot is on because of the opening and the ‘keeper is positioned in a way where there is a chance, I am not afraid to shoot. I like to go for it if the chance is there, and thankfully, I have had some success,” says Serge, continuing: “I am really enjoying playing in England. There was a bit of a delay in the paperwork coming over and so I could not play straight away and that was quite frustrating, but now I am free to play it’s fantastic.
"There are a lot of good players as you would expect at a club like Arsenal. The training is fantastic too. We do a lot of work on technique, a lot more than at my last club, Stuttgart and that is so important in helping me improve as a player and I am enjoying it so much.”
The youngster, who was first spotted playing in an international tournament, and signed after a week’s trial, lives in a flat in Enfield with his father and the two seem to be settling down well. “My father originates from the Ivory Coast and my mum is German. My dad has moved over with me to help me, but we do go back to Germany from time to time. He is learning English, but we both like being here and it helps to have him around. I know that some people can get homesick, but that is not a problem with me. Even at Arsenal, I have plenty of people I can speak to in German if I want to," says the young Gunner, whose English is impeccable.
“The two Swiss boys Martin Angha and Sead Hajrovic both speak German and of course there is Per Mertesacker who always has time for me. He is a nice guy and is very experienced. Even though I joined Arsenal first, he helps me more than I help him,” explains Serge.
The boss, of course, is also a fluent German speaker. “Mr. Wenger has spoken to me in German and we have also spoken in English. The fact that he initially felt it appropriate to speak to me in German was nice of him and made me feel good too.”
Who did you play for before Arsenal?
SV Stuttgart Kickers, VFB Stuttgart, TSV Weissach
Best ever advice?
You have to work hard to become the best
Best moment in football before joining Arsenal?
Being named best player at tournaments
Which team did you support growing up?
Who did you pretend to be in the playground?
Favourite teacher at school?
Mrs Moulin (Ferdinand Porsche School)
Other sports good at in school?
Most influential on your football career so far?
Other clubs interested before signing for Arsenal?
Man City and some Italian sides
What was your favourite TV programme growing up?
Best thing about being part of the Academy?
You are close to the first team
Three words to describe you as a player...
Team-player, strong, goalscorer
Three words to describe you as a person...
Friendly, helpful, mate
Most talented team-mate?