Arsenal have sent a personal chef to the house Smith Rowe shares with his mother Fiona, who was kicked out of her own kitchen to improve her son’s diet.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta claims the recent outstanding form of his No.10 – five goals in his last eight games – is due to an improvement in his lifestyle.
And Smith Rowe, 21, admitted, “I think he was talking about my diet. I was not used to eating well. I had cramps after 60 minutes.
“I wasn’t eating very well, I wasn’t drinking very well, before games I wasn’t really hydrated, but since then I’ve tried to focus so much on it.
“There’s a lot of stuff we should drink before a game, but before I was a little too lazy.
“It was mainly my diet, my nutrition and stuff like that. It really helped me. The club has chosen a chef for me, Chris, and he comes to my house every day.
“He has a few pasta dishes and it’s good for the carbs. Before, I didn’t like fish, but now I’m going for it, salmon and all that.
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” I live with my mother. She cooks normally but no longer has to cook. She wants the best for me and if that’s what I have to do, I will.
“The clubs are strict (on the diet) but I didn’t listen to be honest, I think that’s where I went wrong. But now I listen all the time.
When asked what his guilty pleasures were, Smith Rowe replied, “Chocolate and I really like Nando’s. Maybe it kills me a bit.
“I tried to eliminate chocolate and take-out as much as possible. I still eat at home now.
Smith Rowe – a South Londoner nicknamed ‘The Croydon De Bruyne’ – has had a meteoric rise since drawing attention in the 3-1 win over Chelsea on last Boxing Day.
This result likely saved Arteta from the sack after a string of disastrous results and it saw Smith Rowe become a fixture in the first team.
But the soft-spoken youngster is happy to admit he suffered from stage fright playing in front of a crowd and that behind-the-scenes football was a major advantage as he established himself as an Arsenal regular.
Smith Rowe said: “Before that Chelsea game I played in the Europa League, getting opportunities here and there. I wasn’t supposed to start the game, but at the hotel the gaffer called me and asked me to chat a few hours before the game.
“He told me I was actually starting. It was kinda crazy.
“It was a big game, but not having fans really helped me. I’m always very nervous before the game and not having this pressure that everyone is shouting, it helped me a lot.
“Now that the fans are back, I’m pretty surprised it’s going that way. I thought I wouldn’t be as confident as I am. It’s always very special to play in the Emirates anyway.
“Maybe two seasons ago, just before going to RB Leipzig (on loan), my nervousness affected me. I think now I’m fine. I really haven’t changed anything.
“I think I’m always very nervous in the locker room before a game. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s a good thing.
Smith Rowe had loan spells at Leipzig and Huddersfield in the Bundesliga in the Championship on either side of his first-team debut under the guidance of interim manager Freddie Ljungberg, who had been his academy coach and mentor.
But as an elementary school kid, he had failed a trial at Chelsea for being ‘really skinny and getting kicked the ball all the time’.
Smith Rowe added: “I think Spurs were interested when I was around 15 or 16. I wasn’t that interested to be honest, being an Arsenal fan. “
The Arsenal child was a member of the victorious England Under-17 squad, which won the Under-17 World Cup four years ago, when he cohabited with Phil Foden.
The pair are now reunited in the senior squad ahead of Friday’s qualifier against Albania at Wembley.
He said: “Phil and I were looking at the photos earlier actually of our Under 17s. We laughed at our haircuts.
Foden is one of a handful of exciting attacking talents with whom Smith Rowe must compete for an English shirt ahead of clashes with Albania and San Marino, which are expected to secure next year’s World Cup qualification in Qatar. .
Smith Rowe was mentioned by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate last month but admits his main call, in place of injured Marcus Rashford, came sooner than he expected.
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He said: “I didn’t think I would be involved so soon. This is my first real full season in the Premier League. When Gareth mentioned me, it definitely gave me extra motivation.
“I didn’t think he would talk about me so soon. It’s great when the manager talks to you. It’s hard not to look at him.
“But I just try to keep my head down because when I put too much pressure on myself things start to go wrong. “