HomeEmile Smith Rowe: Before, I was a little lazy. I didn’t really listen ‘| Arsenal

Emile Smith Rowe: Before, I was a little lazy. I didn’t really listen ‘| Arsenal

IIt was not Arsenal Emile Smith Rowe was not asked to eat right, hydrate properly, and be professional at all times. It was just that, in his words, “He didn’t really listen… I was a bit lazy.”

To chart Smith Roe’s ascent to the point he reached He received his first summons in England In the World Cup qualifiers against Albania on Friday and San Marino next Monday, it’s easy to focus on the electric progress he’s made since Boxing Day.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder wasn’t supposed to start Against Chelsea that day But Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who has struggled with illness in his squad, turned to him two hours before kick-off. Arsenal had picked up five points from their previous 10 league games and Smith Rowe was 10th on his debut in the Premier League this season.

The nerves were intense and Smith Roe was a player who would admit feeling it. But he excelled, Arsenal won 3-1 and he barely looked back.

This season, Smith Rowe has been instrumental in his team’s rise to fifth place, scoring four goals, including one in each of their past three league games, and providing assists.

The numbers have advanced in his case but scratched a little deeper and it was a change in his lifestyle that provided the marginal gains. “I wasn’t used to eating well,” he says. “I wasn’t drinking well. Before games, I wasn’t really hydrated. Now I’ve tried to focus a lot on it.

“Arsenal is strict but I didn’t really listen, to be honest. I think that’s where I got it wrong. Now I listen all the time.”

Emile Smith Rowe has scored in all of Arsenal's last three league games.
Emile Smith Rowe has scored in all of Arsenal’s last three league games. Photo: Zach Goodwin/PA

What is the pleasure of guilt? “Chocolate… I love Nando’s so much – maybe this is killing me a bit,” he said with a smile. “I’ve tried to stop eating chocolate and junk food as much as I can.

“The club sorted me out with a chef. His name is Chris and he comes to my house every day. I live with my mother and she cooks but she doesn’t have to. Chris cooks for me and her.

“With hydration, there’s a lot of things to eat before a game, and yes, before I’m a bit lazy.”

There was an irony in Smith Roe’s breakthrough at the highest level after he came against Chelsea because when he was “seven or eight” his academy rejected him after a trial.

“I went in for three or four weeks, but at the time, I was very young and very skinny and kept pushing off the ball,” he says. “I wasn’t stepping in and touching the ball enough. That’s how I felt, why didn’t I get in.”

Smith Rowe remembers Spurs wanted him when he was ’15 or 16′ but, as an Arsenal fan, there was never any interest in that. He had joined Arsenal at the age of ten and was determined to achieve the grade at his club.

England's first team called up Emile Smith Rowe for the first time on Monday.
England’s first team called up Emile Smith Rowe for the first time on Monday. Photography: Nick Potts/PA

Smith Roe grew up south of the river in Thornton Heath but followed Arsenal because it was what his older brother did and remembers Dennis Bergkamp, ​​Thierry Henry and other stars of the time being drawn to them.

The Chelsea game was during part of the pandemic when there were no fans inside but Smith Rowe says it “definitely helped him”. “I am always really nervous before the match. And not having that pressure from everyone screaming, helped me a lot.”

Did his nerves affect his growth? “Yes, maybe before I go on loan to RB Leipzig [in January 2019], he says. ‘I’m fine now. I’m always really nervous before a game.

“It’s basically in the locker room – that’s when I get really nervous. I’ve talked to some guys and they’re saying the same thing too. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s a good thing.”

Smith Roe was asked if he ever sought help to stabilize himself – perhaps hypnotherapy? “Nothing yet. It’s something I might look into.”

The Fiver: Sign up and get our daily soccer email.

He shares the company, is open and honest. His loan at Leipzig was spoiled by growing pains – he’s played 26 minutes in three substitute matches – and he admitted he questioned whether he would make it. “It was tough but it definitely made me a more man.”

Smith Roe will get a better loan at Huddersfield in the Championship the following January, and now he can dream of a franchise England He made his debut, possibly alongside Phil Foden – his roommate from the team that won the U-17 World Cup in 2017.

“We were looking at pictures less than 17 days earlier, laughing at our haircuts,” says Smith Rowe. “Watching the other boys and seeing what they were doing always gave me that extra motivation.”