Arsenal is everything … I want to emulate the icons – .

Arsenal is everything … I want to emulate the icons – .

“That’s all,” he said. “I can’t see myself anywhere else. Being an Arsenal fan from a young age, there is nothing better that I would rather do than play for the club and the fans as well. It makes it even more special to me.

The smile momentarily fades from Smith Rowe’s face, but quickly returns when asked about Arsenal’s recent 3-1 victory over Tottenham, which was led by himself and his fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka.

“It was probably the best feeling we’ve had together,” he says. “The day before we talked over dinner and we just imagined if either of us was scoring or helping.
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“These are the times you dream of and we were so happy for each other. Our families were both in the stadium as well and admiring them was the best feeling ever. “
The journey to days like this hasn’t been easy for Smith Rowe, who grew up in Croydon and would travel to Hale End for training sessions with Arsenal academy.
His mum and dad alternated driving duties, making sure their son never missed a session as he looked to be successful at Arsenal.
“It was really hard to be honest,” says Smith Rowe. “I was literally finishing school and had to rush straight down the freeway, change into the car, and then as soon as I got there, I jumped straight onto the astro in Hale End.
“It was difficult, but I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Before honing his skills at Hale End, Smith Rowe spent his time playing football with his brother, father and friends in the cage behind his house.
“It was literally right behind my house,” he explains. “I could jump over my garden and straight into the cage.
“There was a small river in between and I just had to jump over it. It was easy because I could just jump back when my mom called me back. It was good.
“I went there all the time with my friends, my dad and my brother. They were good memories.
Smith Rowe’s brother and father both had a big influence on his football education. His brother showed him clips of Arsenal greats such as Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, while his father opted for edits by Barcelona legends Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Smith Rowe’s own heroes were Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho, but his love for Arsenal grew as he admired his older brother.
“My big brother, also being an Arsenal fan, always showed me videos,” he says. “My dad was a Tottenham fan… which didn’t go so well in the house!
« [I support Arsenal] just because I have always admired my brother. I have always been close to him and he taught me football from an early age.
“Obviously my dad did too, but it was my brother that I mostly admired when we were in the backyard playing. “
Football wasn’t the only thing Smith Rowe’s family taught her from a young age, as it also emphasized to him the importance of helping the community. Just as he hasn’t forgotten Iniesta’s music videos, Smith Rowe hasn’t forgotten the importance of this and he has embarked on many projects at Arsenal.
The latter explains why he is conducting this interview from a barber’s chair at JNF Haircutters, a stone’s throw from the Emirates Stadium, when he has just spent time there to film an advertisement with the owner, Jimmy Patsalou.
This is part of the Arsenal Supporting Supporters campaign which, following on from old player-business partnerships of yesteryear, has seen players team up with local businesses to promote them and generate more footfall on match days.
Rob Holding has already partnered with local pub, The Tollington, and Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has partnered with auto company Autoparts.
“Coming here and learning how much Arsenal mean to them, you learn a little bit more about the local community,” says Smith Rowe. “I just want to repay the faith. “
“It went well,” he says. “Seeing him now and having the chance to train with him, he still has it.
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“His technique is incredible. It’s great to have him on the training ground. I am sure he will help me a lot.
Wilshere can no doubt help Smith Rowe understand the pressures of wearing the famous No10 jersey, which the 21-year-old donned this summer after signing his new contract.
“I feel like it’s such an iconic number. So many great players have worn it, not just at Arsenal, but even at other clubs, ”he said.
“There are so many great players who have worn the No10 and I feel like it was a challenge I wanted to take on. I wanted to prove myself and prove that I am able to wear it. I want to keep working hard and hope the fans can see that I am able to wear it.


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