Feature

Dominic Thompson

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 Dominic Thompson:

I joined Arsenal as an under-12 but it took some time before I was actually signed on. I was spotted playing in central midfield for Brent against Barnet, and I remember that I’d played well. Three days after the match my dad told me that he’d been approached by Arsenal, who wanted me to go and train with them with a view to having a formal trial. I was happy of course, and surprised at the same time, but I was really excited about joining the players at Hale End.

It was November, I was 11 years old and because I was born in July I was among the youngest in the year. I remember being quite nervous and played very safe, within myself, because I didn’t want to make a mistake. I relaxed a bit more as I got used to things and then I was moved from central midfield to left back. That was a new challenge, as I hadn’t played there before.

I was left-footed and was among the fastest payers in the team at the time and so it made sense. I struggled a bit with my positional play at first, but because I was quick I was able to recover in time, even when my starting position was wrong. That improved and I became more comfortable in the role.

Around April I was given a formal six-week trial and in May we played a game against Reading at the Emirates. We lost 1-0 and we were all quite deflated but Liam Brady called me over for a quick chat as I walked off the pitch. I thought I’d done quite well in the game and so I was puzzled and didn’t have a clue what he wanted to talk to me about. To my delight he told me that he wanted to offer me a two-year contract as a schoolboy.

From being so sad because we lost, I was so happy and I ran straight into the changing rooms with a massive smile on my face. The other lads were so happy for me and it did help lift the mood. I’ve played mainly as a left back ever since, but in my last year as a schoolboy I didn’t really feature for the under-16s at first and played mainly with the under-15s. Around Christmas time though I was called up into the 16s and started in central midfield. However, after I found out I was going to be given a scholarship, I reverted to left back again and had a good run of games there for the under-16s.

I haven’t started yet in the under-18s, but I played in a couple of friendlies. I played on the left wing against Hitchin, where I didn’t feel that I did myself justice, and then against Swindon I returned at left back and played quite well. There is a lot of competition in my position and I’m behind two good, older and more experienced players at the moment but I’m patient and working hard to make an impact when I’m called in.

I am training hard in the gym and on the pitch with my strength and conditioning coach Padraig. We want to make sure that when I’m called upon, I am ready. I want to compete and win my share of battles against the bigger and older players that I’m likely to be facing. I’m working hard on my all-round game but especially one- on-one defending and my crossing too, both of which are supremely important for a full back.

My targets are to establish myself as a regular in the under-18s and keep improving so as to make a real impact next season. 

THE LOWDOWN

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?My dad.

What's the best aspect of your game?1 v 1 defending and passing.

And what do you still need to work on?My weaker foot.

Which team did you support as a boy?Arsenal.

Who did you pretend to be in the playground?Ronaldinho.

Which current player would you most like to play against?Alexis.

If you could score any goal from history, which one would it be?Danny Welbeck's header against Leicester last season.

What's been the greatest moment in your career?Being offered a scholarship and winning the U-17 Future Cup.

If you had to sing one song to save your life, what would it be?'Wanna Know' by Dave 

TEAM-MATES

Who has the best sense of humour?Zech Medley.

Who is the best at FIFA?Emile Smith-Rowe.

Who has the best engine?Josh Benson.

Who has the best turn of pace?Emile Smith-Rowe.

Who is the worst at FIFA?Joseph Olowu.

Who has the worst taste in music?Josh Benson.

Who has the best ball skills?Zech Medley.

Who is the best with the ladies?Tobi Omole. 

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