In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words.
This time we spoke to midfielder Joseph Olowu:
I suppose that compared to a lot of players at the club I was a later starter.
I was 13 years of age when I was spotted by Arsenal and I was actually playing for Charlton Athletic on a trial with them in a game against the Gunners. Later that night the scout who actually took me to Charlton called and told my parents that Arsenal had invited me on a six-week trial with them. I was playing as a defensive central midfielder but straight away I was asked to play centre back by the coaches at Hale End. I was an Arsenal fan but was quite relaxed because I did not raise my hopes too high.
I thought that Arsenal were such a big club, they have their choice of the best players from around the world so my chances of being taken on would be slim. My thinking was that I would at least have experienced the opportunity of a trial with my club. Because I was so laid back about would happen I was able to play my natural game. I was five weeks into the trial and after a match against Crystal Palace, I was invited to sign. That is when I became really happy and excited!
Moving to centre back suited me. I enjoy getting stuck in and I am quite physical in challenges and I try and play with the attitude that Laurent Koscielny plays with. He is not the tallest of centre backs but is very dominant and consistent and that comes down to ability and his approach to every games and every challenge.
I am six-foot and one inch tall and still growing. Arsenal like centre backs to play out from the back and that is also a part of my game but it is an area which I am concentrating on to improve. I am working hard on improving my passing, both long and short. That is something that every player has to keep practising whatever age they are. It is not only important in helping the team build a move but also a wayward pass could put the team under pressure and lead to a goal. Being able to pass accurately when under pressure is so important.
My parents are from Nigeria and I am eligible to play for either Nigeria or England. I have not featured internationally yet but that may come. Alex Iwobi has really been an inspiration to me and to my team mate Tobi Omole who I also live with in digs in Cockfosters. He came through the Arsenal Youth system and is doing so well. He scored against Zambia in the World Cup qualifiers the other week and his name is growing and growing in African football. My dad has also noticed that there is a lot of attention being given to Toby and I in the African football forums which must in part also be due to how well Alex has been doing.
My targets this year are to establish myself in the Under-18s and then the Under-19s squad. The standard of the Under-18s is very high this year. It was a new experience for me as I did not play any games last season. It took a couple of matches to get used to the pace and being in a team with a lot of players who I I had never played with, but everything is really good now.
Hopefully by the end of the season I would have featured in some way with the Under-23s. I enjoy playing with older players as a way of learning. During one recent international break we played on the first team pitches with some of the first team squad who hadn’t travelled with their countries and that was a great experience.
When did you first join the Arsenal Academy?
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
What’s the best aspect of your game?
And what do you still need to work on?
Seeing danger early
Which team did you support as a boy?
Who did you pretend to be in the playground?
Which current player would you most like to play against?
If you could score any goal from history, which one would it be?
Drogba’s header against Bayern in the Champions League final
What’s been the greatest moment in your career so far?
Winning the Under-17s Future Cup
If you had to sing one song to save your life, what would it be?
Jidenna - Classic Man
What’s your most valuable possession?
A photo of my parents
What other sports are you good at?
Aside from PE, which was your best subject at school?
Who has the best sense of humour?
Who is the best at FIFA?
Who has the best engine?
Who has the best turn of pace?
Who has the best ball skills?
Who is the best with the ladies?
Who is the worst dressed?
Who has the worst taste in music?
Who is the worst dancer?
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.