In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. Next, we speak to goalkeeper Karl Hein.
I made my debut for the under-18s in our 4-2 win over Reading and, while I would have preferred a clean sheet, I was happy to have played my first game for the club.
I’ve been in England since the first week of July, having signed in April. I’ve had to be patient and work hard to get a chance, but already I’ve been able to start for the under-18s five times. In my mind I had to be ready to do my job when called upon and I focused on training well to do that.
The target for me now is to play more regularly, which will help me keep developing.
I’m working hard in training to keep improving. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the first-team goalkeepers a few times this season and they’re all excellent. Petr Cech and Bernd Leno have contrasting styles but watching them close up is good for me because I try to learn from them and take the best of both into my game. They are very good to train with.
I’ve also had a lot of contact with a former Arsenal goalkeeper. Mart Poom was my coach at Nomme United and he is also the Estonian national team goalkeeping coach, so I worked a lot with him when I was with the under-17s. He taught me a tremendous amount and I’m sure that without him I would not have the opportunity that I have now here at Arsenal. He also gave me an insight into what to expect being with the Gunners and football in England, and that helped me a lot.
I’ve settled in quite well. I’d studied English at school for the past eight years and after a couple of weeks it felt quite natural speaking English. An important part of a goalkeeper’s job is communication and I think I’m able to find the right balance with what the team needs from me in terms of instructions and information.
I live in digs in Bricket Wood with Robbie Burton, which is a massive help for me. Robbie has been at the club a while and is a good person to talk to. He has helped me to integrate.
I go home about once a month and see my family and friends, so I feel I have found a good balance. There was quite a bit of coverage in Estonia when I joined Arsenal because football is the most popular sport there.
The quality and tempo of the football here is at a much higher level than back home and that means that I have to be even better and as focused as possible, especially as the finishing of the strikers is more clinical.
The goalkeeper I looked most to learn from as I developed was Manuel Neuer. He impresses me with every aspect of his keeping and I watch videos all the time to see what I can learn, whether it’s his starting positions, body shape, distribution or decision making. I analyse and try and learn from everything that he does.
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