“I’m a leader and I put my body on the line for the team. I’m also composed on the ball and I can pick out the right pass.”
George Dobson is a very confident 16-year-old - and rightly so. After making his Youth League debut as an 87th-minute substitute at Borussia Dortmund, the young centre back was handed his first start when Arsenal beat Galatasaray 5-1 two weeks later and is expected to play against Anderlecht on Tuesday.
He has been an ever-present in the under-18s over the last two seasons and, after impressing for Steve Gatting and Frans de Kat’s side, he has made the next step towards advancing through the youth ranks.
"Youth League is a great experience for everyone to travel to other countries and experience different cultures - it’s a great learning curve"
Under-21s regulars Isaac Hayden and Semi Ajayi have already trained with the first team this season, meaning that Dobson’s opportunity to make the step up could be on the horizon, but the teenager insists he is in no rush and wants to learn as much as he can from European football.
“It’s great to get 90 minutes,” he said. “The whole Youth League is a great experience for everyone to travel to other countries and experience different cultures - it’s a great learning curve.
“It didn’t seem like much of a step up against Galatasaray because of the result but it’s a lot different. The team you’re playing against has a different background and style of football to English teams, so it’s unfamiliar but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot harder.”
Anyone who has watched the under-18s play this season will know Dobson as, in his words, “the loud one at the back”, and he says that, even though he is one of the youngest in the under-19 squad, ordering players around remains an important part of his game
“I find it comfortable really,” he explained. “They respect the way I play, and I try to be a leader. I feel like I’ve got good footballing intelligence so, even though they’re more experienced and older than me, I can help them through the game as well.
“The older lads have helped me a lot too, especially the ones who have travelled with the first team like Gedion [Zelalem]. They made me feel really at ease during my first start for the under-19s.”
Admittance to all under-21 and European youth fixtures at Boreham Wood FC will be free of charge.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.