Interview

Aliadiere The story of how I joined Arsenal

By Jeremie Aliadiere's own admission, moving to Arsenal was tough but “a dream”.

The Frenchman joined the club at the age of 16, leavingFrance after a phone call from Arsene Wenger changed everything. 

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"I was at home and the phone rung and I remember my Dad's face just so shocked," Aliadiere told Arsenal Player. "So I asked who's on the phone and he couldn't say because he was obviously answering back to him and he stayed about 45 minutes on the phone. After that he said 'Yes, it was Arsene Wenger' and I said ‘Really?' He said, 'He wants you to join Arsenal' and I said 'No, you're joking me?' From that day it was just a dream. 
 
"To be honest, before I came to Arsenal I've always been a massive Arsenal fan with the French connection - with Arsene Wenger and all the French players. It's always been my favourite club, so when Arsene Wenger called my Dad there was no doubt in my mind that that's where I wanted to go and I remember him inviting me to Saint Paul's House, the hotel back in the day because the training ground was not there yet, London Colney, we used to train next door. 

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"So I just met him at the time and I was so impressed I didn't really know what to say to him. I just answered his questions and he was just saying that I want you to come and you're going to start with the academy to learn the English mentality and the English football, before moving up with the first team. For me it was a dream coming to Arsenal. 

"It was for about six months the hardest time of my career probably because I didn't speak any English. I moved with my grandparents but my grandparents couldn't settle down in the UK so they left after three or four months and I ended up being on my own at the age of 16. 
 
"I had to learn English, the new mentality, new country and everything, so that was tough, but I think it made me stronger and that's probably what Arsene wanted as well. He would have wanted me to toughen up and learn how English football is to see if whether I was going to make it or want to leave and go back home. 

"After those six months I settled down and started to speak English a bit better and it went well after that. I moved up to the first team dressing room and that was it."

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