Arsenal playmaker Emile Smith Rowe has revealed Chelsea turned down the chance to sign him during his early years in the sport.
The 21-year-old has been a vital part of Arsenal’s ascent up the Premier League table this season, and tops the charts for the Gunners for goals scored (four) and assists provided (two), culminating in a call-up to the England squad for this month’s World Cup Qualifiers.
Initially shunned by Gareth Southgate, Smith Rowe got the phone call following several withdrawals in the Three Lions camp, including Marcus Rashford, James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice, as well as the late appearance of Mason Mount, whose arrival was delayed by dental surgery.
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Arsenal’s No. 10 has firmly cemented a first-team status under manager Mikel Arteta this term and has been one of the many young England players coming through the ranks at Premier League clubs recently, with Chelsea the biggest producer at the minute — and Smith Rowe could have been another Cobham success story.
“Yes, before I went to Arsenal, I went on trial at Chelsea through one of my team mates at my local team,” Smith Rowe told reporters.
“He was on trial there already and he put in a word for me. I don’t know how he managed it but I got a trial at Chelsea but I didn’t get in.
“It was difficult to take at the time, being so young, but I went straight into Arsenal after that and luckily I got in and I haven’t looked back since.”
Jamie Vardy (8) and Reece James (7) are the only English players with more Premier League goals and assists combined this season than Emile Smith Rowe:
◉ 11 games
◉ 4 goals
◉ 2 assists
ESR's call-up was inevitable. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ERygvHu1hp
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 8, 2021
Smith Rowe also gave his thoughts on what it meant to receive his first call up to the England squad, having initially been scheduled to turn out for the U21s this month, revealing his promotion to the senior team was an unexpected but welcomed surprise.
“It is a dream come true [to be called up by England], I definitely didn’t expect it,” he said.
“I was going into the U21s and I got a phone call the day before from Gareth to say I am in the first team.
“It was a great moment for me and my family. My mum was downstairs when he called and I was upstairs. I ran downstairs and told her straight away, it was very emotional. They were so proud of me and I couldn’t wait to meet up with the squad.
“Everything has happened so quickly but I try to keep my head down. It is surreal to be here and I want to learn as much as I can.”