Emile Smith Rowe may be softly spoken, but he's always firmly believed he would get his chance to shine in the first team.
The 20-year-old has made a major impact since stepping into the side in our Boxing Day victory against Chelsea, and was determined to seize his chance.
“I didn’t doubt myself at all,” Smith Rowe told Arsenal.com. “I feel like I’ve always had confidence in myself, from the players and all my family. I feel like if I kept working hard and kept training, one day I would get an opportunity to show it.
Click the Play button above to watch the full, in-depth interview with Emile.
“Obviously I’ve been at the club from a young age. Watching the first team, and seeing magical goals and the link-up combinations and stuff from a young age, I’ve always wanted to be a part of it. I think growing up I’ve always tried to do it in training and matches as I was going through the ranks in the academy.
“I found out I was in the starting XI against Chelsea on the day of the game. I had a knock on my hotel room door and it was one of the coaches basically saying, ‘The manager would like to speak to you downstairs.’ I was thinking like, ‘Am I in trouble? Have I done something wrong?’ I’ve literally gone down there, he’s sat down in a chair and stuff, and he’s just looked at me and said, ‘Basically, I’ve got good news: you’re starting tonight.’
“He had the tactics board in front of him and just showed me where I was playing and what I should do. It just gave me so much confidence. I was so surprised. My heart was beating so quickly and stuff. It was such a big game against a big team like Chelsea.
“I was really nervous but at the same time it was a really big moment. I’ve always got that little bit of nerves before every game. Whatever game I’m playing, I’ve always got that little bit of nerves. The players helped and they’ve all helped me as I’ve been playing and stuff, so that gave me so much more confidence going into the game. I think as soon as I stepped on to the pitch, I tried not to think about it too much. I tried to play my game.
“I try to be free in my mind. There’s one thing I do, which is wear my socks low. I feel like that gives me a lot of freedom, I don’t know why. It’s just a little superstition. I feel like I always have a lot of freedom on the pitch, and like I said earlier, all the players give me confidence and that makes it even easier for me.”
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.