Spotlight on…Emile Smith Rowe

Chris Henderson
01 January 2019

Born: 28 July 2000 (Age 18)
Place of birth: Croydon, London
Position: Attacking midfielder

The story so far

Emile Smith Rowe joined Arsenal as a 10-year-old in 2010. Since then, he has quickly risen through the ranks into the senior team, and is one of the hottest young prospects in English football.

“He has got something a little bit special. He has a real chance”

During his development at Arsenal’s Hale End academy, he turned down an approach from rivals Tottenham, quickly endearing him to fans. He also rejected lucrative offers from Chelsea and Barcelona.

The Londoner truly made his mark in Arsenal’s U23 team when he clocked up 13 goals and four assists in the 2017-18 season. Jack Wilshere praised his former teammate, “He has got something a little bit special. He has a real chance.”

In the summer, Unai Emery promoted Smith Rowe to the senior team for the club’s pre-season tour of Singapore. In a 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid, he calmly finished into the top right-hand corner of Madrid’s goal after a mazy run. Several days later, on his 18th birthday, his assist count was up and running in a 5-1 win over PSG.

The young Gunner has picked up caps at international level for the U16s, U17s and U18s. In 2017, he won the World Cup with the U17s, although he was used sparingly by boss Steve Cooper.

A clinical eye for goal was underlined by a neat finish in the 3-0 Europa League victory over Qarabag, which made him the first Arsenal player born after 2000 to score a senior goal.

“My coaches recognised that I am quite reserved and they spent time trying to help build my confidence”

Playing style

Smith Rowe played mostly on the wing as a schoolboy, particularly comfortable from the left side and drifting inside. He has played as a deep lying midfielder as well as a winger, but looks to have found his calling in his preferred number 10 role.

His key assets are composure and an exquisite first touch. He recently told Goal.com that he aspires to be ‘Arsenal’s Kevin De Bruyne.’

He is most comfortable when moving forwards and putting defenders on the back foot, “I like to drive towards the goal with the ball and I think my range of passing and awareness has developed too.”

“Within ten seconds, the whole room joined in and any nerves I had disappeared”

Physicality does not look to be a problem, although a strong confidence in his ability will be key, especially after being promoted into the senior team at such a young age, “I am a shy person on and off the pitch. My coaches recognised that I am quite reserved and they spent time trying to help build my confidence so that I can play freely.”

During the 3-1 Carabao Cup third-round victory over Brentford in September, he failed to convert a very good chance after springing the offside trap. But the 18-year-old looked bright and caused problems for Brentford’s defence, particularly in the first half. He showed confidence and composure, and did not look afraid of getting on the ball.

Smith Rowe must be careful not to fall foul of the Arsenal hype machine and become the next in a seemingly endless conveyor belt of over-hyped talent from the Arsenal Academy in recent years. While it’s very early days for the Londoner, the initial signs look positive.

Did you know?

As part of his induction to the senior squad, the youngster had to sing in front of his teammates. He chose ‘Sorry’ by Justin Bieber. The 18-year-old was relieved with a warm welcome, “Within ten seconds, the whole room joined in and any nerves I had disappeared”.

Smith Rowe is a youngster with technical ability and an acute understanding of which attributes to develop. A bright future in North London lies ahead.

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Chris is the founder of The Football Brief. He runs our regular series and can usually be found waxing lyrical about Blackburn Rovers and R9.

By |2019-01-09T17:24:30+00:00January 9th, 2019|

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