Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe lifts lid on bitter rivals Tottenham’s transfer interest

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Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe has explained why he chose not to sign for rivals Tottenham as a teenager. The newly called-up England star went on trial across North London several years ago but opted to remain with the Gunners. 

Smith Rowe has enjoyed an excellent season, scoring five times in all competitions under Mikel Arteta. It is his best ever haul at senior level, and included a goal in September’s 3-1 win against Spurs.

He has scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances, including the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Watford which extended a 10-match unbeaten run.  

Smith Rowe has been one of Arsenal’s best players during their upturn in form. Arteta’s side lost each of their first three matches but are now fifth and are on course to qualify for Europe next term.  

The 21-year-old’s form has earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the first time. 

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But it might have been so different had he instead transferred aged 15.  

Smith Rowe was wanted by Spurs but turned down the move due to being an Arsenal supporter.  

“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,” Smith Rowe told the Guardian.  

The England U17 World Cup winner struggled in his earlier academy days at Arsenal. Quizzed on why, he added: “I didn’t used to eat that well. I wasn’t drinking that well. Before games, I wasn’t really that hydrated. I’ve tried now to focus so much on it.

“Arsenal are strict but I didn’t really listen, to be honest. I think that’s where I went wrong. Now I’m listening all the time.

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

“With hydration, there’s loads of stuff we should be taking before a game and, yeah, before I was a bit too lazy.”

It was not the only move Smith Rowe could have made as a youngster. 

He went on trial at Chelsea as a child but was turned down. Had he joined, he might have been a member of the club’s golden generation alongside Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham.

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Defender James, who is also in the England squad, remembers Smith Rowe trialling at Cobham. 

The 21-year-old has lifted the lid on what the former RB Leipzig loanee is like to play with and against. 

“I’ve always known he’s a top player, he came to Chelsea when he was quite young on trial,” James said on Tuesday. 

“I remember playing with him and against him even when he went to Arsenal, so I always knew he was a top player and I think this season he’s shown how good he is and why he’s been selected.”

Asked what Smith Rowe is like in training, James continued: “What he’s like in games, everyone can see how good he is and how well he’s been doing.”
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