Our new goalkeeper Matt Turner couldn't hide his delight at finally putting pen to paper and confirming his transfer to Arsenal.
The keeper, who turned 28 on Friday, has joined on a long-term contract from MLS side New England Revolution.
After signing from his deal – and being taken on a tour of London Colney by technical director Edu – Matt sat down with our very own Frimmy to discuss the move.
Here's what he said...
F: Matty! You’re finally here, it feels like it’s been a while coming to be honest, are you happy to be at The Arsenal?
MT: Yes, it has been a while coming but it feels good to finally be here, obviously a lot of build up, a lot of interviews, this and that, but to be here and to get ready to work feels really, really great
F: You know sometimes it’s weird, you hear no rumours with players that are coming or going, and then when they get here you have to scramble around to get to know them. But we kind of knew you were coming for a little while now, how was it still playing in the States, but still knowing you were going to come to The Arsenal...
MT: Yeah, it was a little tricky at times, but the good thing was I got to follow along the tail-end of last season and watch every game Arsenal was playing, and really feel like I was a part of it which was interesting, but I did have a slight injury that kept me out for a bit so really my focus in this past few months was just getting back to full fitness, and then playing some games to get a rhythm, and that’s leading nicely into the start of pre-season here.
F: What was the injury? Was it a long one?
MT: No, I was out for a couple months, a little one, a little one that just took a little while.
F: Obviously we did know you were coming for a while, were a lot of Arsenal fans hitting up the DMs to see when we were going to see you in a shirt?
MT: I will say the Arsenal fans are pretty active on the socials, I could see it in Instagram comments and stuff which was really nice to feel welcome, to know that there’s the support out there for the move, that people are excited to see me come, that feels really nice because I am really, really excited to be here.
F: Yeah, the Arsenal fans said I needed to come down here and you know, check the vibe, of course you’re a massive, massive Arsenal fan, how and when did you become an Arsenal fan?
MT: So I grew up in North Jersey, I didn’t play football until I was 14 years old, so as soon as that came around, the World Cup came around in 2010, I really started getting into football. The US had a great run in that tournament, some magical moments I’ll call it, and from there I bought my first Fifa game, my sisters both played for a youth team called The Arsenal growing up, so it was just kind of a natural connection there, and from there I began to follow the team pretty closely and so did the rest of my family.
F: Was there any games or players that caught your eye when you were growing up watching The Arsenal?
MT: Obviously there’s some fun years with Olivier Giroud bagging goals, he was always fun to watch, my sister had a huge crush on him so it was pretty funny, he’s a handsome guy.
F: Got to give him that!
MT: Just everyone really, from the start back then in 2013/2014, 2011/2012, those teams, Per Mertesacker, Wojciech Szczesny when he was here, just a fun team to watch, exciting, Alexis Sanchez, a lot of firing power and a lot of talent so they’re a good team to support and when I went to uni I went with a bunch of guys that were from England, so they’d come over, and they’re all fans of different clubs, and so Saturday, Sunday mornings in the US were always a good time for us to watch the Prem together.
F: Have you had a chat with Mikel yet?
MT: Of course, yeah, we’ve been in contact over the past few months, he checked in on me a few times, and we’ve started to develop that relationship.
F: So you said you’ve spoken to Mikel - Inaki, have you spoken to him as well?
MT: Him as well yeah, pretty close contact, especially once I was back playing games, looking at some things, some clips and just talking about games, and looking at training clips, and those kinds of things, so the back and forth was really, really nice, so again that’s another way of just feeling like I was part of the club, even though I wasn’t here in north London.
F: Of course, like I said, you are a massive Arsenal fan. Did you have to wake up early to watch any of our games? Are they any games that stick out to you that you remember?
MT: I can’t remember who they were playing, but there’s been a few times throughout my years as I got a little bit older where my sister lived in Manhattan and we would go down to local supporters’ bars and watch games, so you would be on it pretty early in the day over in the US, but it was always a good time for our whole family really to just watch games and support the team.
F: I’m not going to lie, I was in America, I think a few months ago, and I was there when we were playing Chelsea, that was ok because it was kind of in the afternoon, but the Manchester United one, it was at four o’clock in the morning, I had just come back from a festival, tried to stay up, fell asleep, woke up and was like ‘we won… this is great!’ So you didn’t have to get up much?
MT: Yeah, I would get up early, but on the east coast, the earliest game is 7:30am, so that’s not too early! Being a dad soon, I know that 7:30am is not too early.
F: Of course you are going to be a dad soon, are you excited for that?
MT: Extremely excited and blessed, it’s going to be a great journey and right now it’s just the starting point for a lot of big changes in my life that I’m excited about.
F: It’s a massive change and moving over from America, I heard you brought the dogs as well?
MT: I brought the dogs, yeah! That was probably the most stressful moment of it all, but the dogs made it, they’re safe and they’re enjoying their new gaff.
F: What’s the name of the dogs?
MT: Bear, bear is a little Pomeranian and Kounoupiaki he’s a Morkie. I guess in Greek it means ‘little mosquito’, I credit my wife for that one.
F: Love that! Of course you’ve got some European connections as well, what connection is that? I think you’re from Lithuania?
MT: Yeah, I’m Lithuanian by descent through my great grandparents and I was able to reinstate my citizenship there as well, so I have a duel passport between America and Lithuania.
F: Dope. So of course we’re in Europe, so we’re going to be travelling around Europe, think you’re going to give Lithuania a little visit?
MT: I have to, for sure. I’m really excited to do that as well. The whole process of reinstating the citizenship, in America, when everyone sort of has a story about their background and history and for me and my dad, we were able to go on this journey, we didn’t know a whole lot about his side of the family, and when we ended up finding some old paperwork and then just starting that journey of learning a little bit more about our heritage, and that was just an excellent bonding exercise and you know a little bit more about who you are. So I’m definitely looking forward to getting over to Lithuania, because right after I got my citizenship, the world shut down!
F: That’s heartache. When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of American players playing in the league, but one position where you lot bossed it… goalkeepers. Of course we had players like Brad Friedel and Tim Howard, did you watch them growing up?
MT: Of course yeah, Brad Friedel coached me at the New England Revolution, he’s the one who gave me my debut in the MLS actually.
F: That’s dope!
MT: So I’m pretty close with him. I love Tim Howard, he was probably my goalkeeping idol as I started getting a little bit older and appreciating it more and more, also from New Jersey, like myself, and always had knack for performing well on big stages. It’s definitely a culture thing with the goalkeepers, I think it’s something to do with the background of all different sports in America.
F: Love that. Of course, you’ve just got here, we’re soon going to go back to America for our tour, are you excited to see Baltimore and Florida?
MT: Yeah I’m very excited to get back to the States, show the guys around, tell them what I know about those areas and it will be a nice way for me to integrate into the group, right, to get to know the guys a little bit better and just to have that immediate connection. That and the fact we drew England in the World Cup!
F: You’ve just got here, but we’re soon going back on tour. Are you excited to see Baltimore and Florida?
MT: Yes, I’m very excited to get back to the States, show the guys around, tell them what I know about those areas. It will be a nice way for me to integrate into the group right? To get to know guys a little bit better, and just to get that immediate connection. That and the fact that we drew England in the World Cup.
F: Listen, I’m going on tour as well so you have to show me around too.
MT: I’ll show you around, any time. You let me know what you need and I’ll sort you out.
F: What do I need, let me get back to you to on that.
MT: Don’t think too long!
F: Do you know any American players that play in the UK?
MT: Yeah, I’m good friends with Christian Pulisic so obviously he’s at Chelsea. And I’m tight with Brenden Aaronson as well who just signed up with Leeds. That’s a little further away I know, so Antonee Robinson at Fulham and Christian Pulisic at Chelsea, I’m hoping that I’ll get to spend some time with them and create those relationships off the field as well. I have a cousin who lives in London and obviously some of my friends from Uni back in the day still live in and around London. Which is nice.
F: Do you visit London a lot then?
MT: So I visited just once when I was I think 18 or 19 years old. I was up in Manchester mostly. Manchester and then we went to the Lakes as well for like a New Year’s Eve thing, then back to London for a day or two. It was nice. I definitely have a lot more of the city to explore and to see and to see it through my eyes now compared to when I was 18 years old will be quite different I’m sure.
F: What would you prefer to be called, Matt or Matty?
MT: First name Matty or Matt is fine, Turner as well is also good. Whatever endears the fans the most or makes them feel most connected to is what I will go by.
F: We’ve just been told what your number is going to be for this season, number 30, is there any reason why you picked that number?
MT: Pretty simple. It was my number in New England, it’s a number I’ve developed a close connection to. Obviously I wanted to be number one or 12 when I first got to New England, they sort of cast me aside and were like ‘nah, here’s number 30.’ Instead of making a big fuss about it I just kind of made it my own. It’s a number I feel connected to, plus I got myself a necklace with number 30 on it, so now I don’t have to buy a new one!
F: Love that! We have got a big character in our squad, currently our number one, Aaron Ramsdale. Do you know anything about him?
MT: Yeah he and I have been in contact. He checked in on me, make sure I’m settling in well. He seems like a great guy, I’m looking forward to not only getting to know him, but making him a better goalkeeper and to pushing him to be his best.
F: I’m guessing you saw his game against Leicester? I’m hoping to see some of... actually I’m hoping the defence will be set up enough...
MT: Yeah let’s hope the defenders handle the business!
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