Interview

'This is my new home... it's a dream come true'

We announced our first signing of the summer transfer window on Monday night with Kaylan Marckese joining the club from HB Koge. 

The 24-year-old American will provide strong competition for Manuela Zinsberger and Fran Stenson between the sticks - and now she can’t wait to get started at her new home in north London. 

Read on for a full transcript from Marckese’s first interview as an Arsenal player. 

on how it feels to join The Arsenal…
I don't think it's really settled in yet, but it's like a dream come true. Like a dream that has always been there, but you didn't really recognise until it's actually in the works. I'll start calling it my home and maybe it'll start feeling like it soon. 

on how the transfer came about…
Yeah I mean, I guess it probably initially started in the Champions League last year when HB Koge was able to play Arsenal in two matches in the group stages, so thankfully that happens because I think that kind of, you know, initially set maybe some curiosity and interest because I feel like I had some pretty decent performances in those group stages, especially against Arsenal. So maybe that kind of set the ball rolling a little bit, and then yeah, about like two months ago, I just woke up to a text from my agent that said ‘Arsenal has interest’, I shot out of bed, and a couple hours later when he finally woke up later, time changed and everything, he was like ‘real interest’, so obviously all that kind of stuff takes some time and it didn't realistically start happening until maybe about a month ago, and then obviously that kind of happened very, very quickly in the end, but the interest part had sparked maybe a couple months ago and probably in the middle of middle of the season. 

on her emotions at finding out about the club’s interest…
Yeah, that was insane because you know, at first it was, my dad too was like ‘this is just a great acknowledgement of how well you've been doing and how far you've come’. Like even if there's no actual transfer or contract to be signed, like a club with the level that Arsenal plays at has recognised you to be a strong talent, and so that's kind of what it was at the beginning. ‘Well, wow. Thank you. That's such an honour that there's interest’ and now it’s like, wow, now they want me to wear the crest and play on that pitch every day and walk into this facility every day with that badge and to represent the club, and that just raises it to a whole other level of it just being an absolute privilege to be in north London. 

on what she’s made of London Colney so far…
Yeah, it's unreal. I mean, I'm a little bit confused on where to go and hopefully I'll have a little buddy to guide me around a little bit, but just to be integrated into the men's and the academies, like it is one club, it's one location, and you know, to even to be able to get it kind of when the men's team and the academy are gone on their trips, to see it at its peacefulness, I'm excited to see it when it's all bustling and moving and get to see how it is in action, and just to see all of the amazing amenities and benefits that the training ground provides and actually be able to use them instead of just look at them!

on her football journey so far…
Yeah, so I guess it started probably with my youth club teams, mostly Tampa bay United, where I'm from in St. Petersburg, Florida, so I grew up on that team. That's where I became a goalkeeper, started developing my talent, recruited to play in college at the University of Florida for four years, and then after that, I grew into a position where I was drafted by Sky blue FC, which is now known as Gotham in New Jersey in the NWSL. And so that was my first introduction to the professional leagues and I wasn't quite ready for that level in that environment, so I went and got some playing time in Iceland, a team called Selfoss, that was COVID time, so a bit of a bit of a crazy year, that one was, just personally and professionally for everybody in the world. ut then I really found a good place at HB Koge in Denmark over the last year and a half, just to really grow in development and also have a place where I could kind of solidify more my style as a goalkeeper, which has been just a big confidence boost to be able to get to a place now where I'm like, I'm ready, I'm ready to go to England, which has always been a dream of mine to play in England and for a club like Arsenal. It's just the daily challenge to go on that pitch with those players every single day and get better every single day. You know, even before match day rolls around, I feel like I'm at a place where I'm ready and I'm confident to come in and push the girls to be better, and get pushed by them, which, you know, I've already seen. Katie McCabe already made me jump into that gym session for 20 seconds or whatever it was, so I'm buzzing to get actually out there with them and just improve and get better as a goalkeeper. 

on her role in the squad this season…
Yeah, I mean, not too much to be talked about so far. I think obviously there's some incredible players and an incredible goalkeeper, Manu, on the team, and so to be able to work with her and and push her and learn from her most importantly, I think positions are earned every day and so I know she's not comfortable, but she's confident, and so I'm excited to also kind of get into that place where I'm comfortable around the team, but confident that I can push her and push my role to be as impactful as I can be. And also just again, like I'm here to get better myself and to make the team better, so whatever that position looks like could change, but that'll always be like the core of my ambitions at the club.

on the memories she has of facing us twice last season…
Oh, vivid memories. We've already chatted a little bit about the lunch box and remembering that at Borehamwood, but obviously I remember the ball hitting the back of the neck quite a bit, which is not a feeling you ever get used to, but some of the goals in particular, I just remember them going in slow motion and just being just amazed at the quality of the players in red on the pitch. It was just an exciting atmosphere, and like we talked about in Denmark, there was many more Arsenal fans than Koge fans it felt like because it was just such strong passion for the club and it was admirable. I think I just went out as like an honour to go out there, there wasn’t any nerves, you know. I wasn't nervous to play Arsenal, I was excited. I was like, this is going to be amazing. You know, whatever happens, the outcome is the outcome, but this is going to be amazing and it's kind of transferred into my day here so far as well.

on her pre-match research on our forwards…
Oh my gosh. It was like, okay, Miedema can't score on me. It was like, oh my God, all right, Nikita Paris, we have to slow her down. How do you slow her down? Like just like the way Beth Mead whips in crosses and obviously like Kim little is so dynamic and gets into all the perfect pocket spaces, and Caitlin Foord, I think is somebody that I've always admired watching too over the last few years, especially for Australia and it's just been incredible to get a sense of them on the field, on the opposite side. And that was a big reason why I was like, aright, I don't want to just play against them just in training. I want to be on that team because I want to be with that level of, oh my God, I just, all the names I read out right there and I'm missing more, but that's some insane talent on the frontline there to go against. Yeah, it’s incredible. 

on whether she’s proud to be representing America here at Arsenal…
Yeah, definitely. You know, being only the third American, it's not a long list, so there's a lot of, not pressure, but just honour and pride to be an American in England and bring that level of mentality and energy that America's known for and kind of bring my upbringing into my style of play in my energy, but it'll be interesting how it mixes with all the internationals here as well, because America has an up and down kind of status and view in Europe that I think is just awesome, and I like to embrace it, the controversy and the conflict, because I'm my own person, but I get to represent like such an amazing place.

on how excited she is to get started…
Yeah, I mean, I think you can see it just by the social media videos and just walking around Colney and seeing the kind of ‘we not me’ stands all over the place and getting to watch the girls just battle in the gym earlier today together. I think it's just so important to bond and you know, bring our different cultures and backgrounds together and be able to battle on the pitch. And I think you can see it in the way that the team plays together because it's such an important factor in being a successful group, on the pitch and off the pitch as individuals, so I think that that part just feels familiar. I’ve been here for a day and it feels familiar and comfortable with that. 

on her message to the fans…
Yeah, I just… I don't know really, I mean, I’m just too excited to really think. I hope you have high expectations for me as you should from every Arsenal player, but also, I just hope you keep supporting the team in general, and you know, maybe you've never heard my name before, but, I'll make sure that you know who it is after a little while. Hopefully we just keep supporting, I'll make you guys proud, and continue to add to the legacy.

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