Interview

Bellerin - Why I believe Smith Rowe can make it

Hector Bellerin congratulates Emile Smith Rowe after his goal against Atletico Madrid in Singapore

Hector Bellerin knows all about breaking into the Arsenal first team as a teenager - after all, he was just 18 when he made his debut for us, and a year older when he became our first-choice right back.

Now another youngster is beginning to flourish - 17-year-old Emile Smith Rowe capped a fine display with an eye-catching equaliser in the first match of our 2018 Singapore tour, against Atletico Madrid.

So, what did Bellerin make of his team-mate’s performance?

on Smith Rowe’s goal…
It was a great goal. I’ve been training with him for a long time now and he’s a bright young player. He has the right attitude, the right conditions to make it and it’s all about him keeping his head in the games, train the way he’s playing. I’m sure he’ll get his chance.

on young players keeping him on his toes…
Definitely. I think everyone, not just me… there are players in all positions, with a lot of quality and loads of hunger. Now, with the new coach, they have a chance to impress him. Obviously I come from the academy, I did it in the same way and I’m really happy that our club pushes these players. 

on importance of playing quality sides in pre-season…
It’s really important. Our league starts in a couple of weeks, so we need to get ready. The games we’ve had back in England haven’t been at such a top level as Atletico, so it was needed for the team and also for us to learn about each other, with the young players and the new players, like Papa. It’s important to get rhythm with the new system, the new coaches. I think we had a very solid game. We didn’t score our chances but that’s something we’ll build on through the season. 

on creating chances in first half and giving confidence…
Definitely, I think the performance was really positive. Of course there are loads of things we need to improve, like mistakes when we conceded the goal, but overall I think our performance was positive. We did what we wanted to do. We had the ball, we created chances, so we just need to [build on it]. 

on going three and four at the back…
I think whatever the coach wants to play, everyone will adapt. Last season we played loads of times with a back four. For us it’s more about learning the trade, how the coach wants us to play in those systems. I feel like with the training we’re doing in these kind of games, we’ll perfect it.

on Singapore…
It’s the second time I’ve come to Singapore. It’s a lovely city. We have loads of fans here and around Malaysia and all of Asia. We’ve had people come from Thailand, from everywhere, so we’re very happy to be here and be able to prepare in front of them.

on the game - and changing strategy for PSG…
These games are all about building confidence and about learning how to play with the new players and the young ones. We have a new coach, a new mentality, a new way of playing. It’s not about changing tactics, it’s more about learning about each other and building up towards our season.

on if press reports on Ozil etc have distracted from team’s unity…
Not at all. I said my say on social media about the matter. I stand by it and I always stand by my team-mates. He’s a top professional and has always given his best for his country and his club. I feel very grateful that I get to share a dressing room with such a person.