Emile Smith Rowe has described his call-up to the senior England squad as a ‘dream come true’ after his superb Arsenal form was rewarded with a place in Gareth Southgate’s team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino & Albania.
It has been a whirlwind 12 months for the Hale End Academy graduate, who only made his first Premier League start in last Boxing Day’s win over Chelsea, during which he gave a near flawless display in a 3-1 victory.
Smith Rowe has hardly looked back since and committed his future to the London club in the summer by signing a new long-term deal, inheriting Mesut Ozil’s No.10 squad number.
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The England star has been a key player over the course of Arsenal’s unbeaten 10-game run in all competitions and added a regular supply of goals and assists to his game.
Smith Rowe is now established as a key component of Mikel Arteta’s team, but things could have been different after he revealed he slipped through Chelsea’s net during the formative stages of his career.
He said: ‘I went in for about three or four weeks but, at the time, I was quite small, really skinny and just kept getting pushed off the balI.
‘I wasn’t getting involved and touching the ball enough. That’s what it felt like, why I didn’t get in.’
Spurs were also interested in signing Smith Rowe from Arsenal but the boyhood Gooner conceded he couldn’t contemplate the thought of joining Arsenal’s north London rivals.
He said: ‘Tottenham wanted me when I was 15 or 16 but, as an Arsenal fan, I was never interested. I joined Arsenal at 10 and I was determined to make the grade at my club.’
‘It’s always difficult when everyone’s talking about you and stuff, but it’s good when it’s in a positive way,’ Smith Rowe added.
‘I try not to look at it as much as I can, I try to stay as focused as I can, but it’s good that I’m getting these positive comments about me.
‘It’s unbelievable to be next to those names and a great moment, but the most important thing was getting the three points on Sunday.’