Interview

‘Bale and Theo were my inspiration at Southampton'

Sunday’s visit to Southampton will be particularly special for Calum Chambers.

Our defender came through the youth system at the south-coast side before establishing himself as an important first-team player at St Mary’s.

This weekend’s opposition are famed for the young players they have developed in recent years. When Calum was in the academy, it was Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott that particularly stood out.

“At the time they were our inspiration, we looked up to them,” Chambers told Arsenal Player. “I remember doing a Christmas special training session. I was very young at the time and we trained with their age group. 

“That was pretty special for us, training against them. You look up to them, you want to be like them and break into the first team.

“I had some great times there, met some amazing people and have some close friends who I still keep in touch with now. 

“I think growing up in the environment we grew up in, at the time we were a Championship club and we aspired to be in the Premier League. We pushed ourselves for that. 

“They keep you very grounded there as well. Your education’s really important. They make you do jobs like cleaning boots, you get designated a first-team player and have to clean their boots every day. 

“You want to work hard and I think it makes everyone have that drive. There’s also a clear pathway there. With the players that came through before us, the ones older than me, there was Chambo and Theo, and obviously Gareth Bale as well. 

“You could see there was a clear pathway from the academy to the first team.”

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