Gedion Zelalem says Arsene Wenger’s philosophy of giving young players a chance in the first team was a key reason behind his move to Arsenal and says he’s now looking to follow Mario Götze’s path to the German national team.
Still only 16-years-old the midfielder, who signed in January having been scouted by ex-Gunner Danny Karbassiyoon in America, has followed in the foot-steps of Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas by earning a quick promotion to first team status following a series of eye-catching performances on the pre-season tour of Asia.
“Arsène Wenger gives young players a chance,” Zelalem told the German FA’s website when asked about life in London.
“And if he gives it to you, then you must also use it. He was the reason for me to go to Arsenal.
“I have often trained [with the first team] but an injury set me back a bit, although I’m back on track now.”
Having being selected to play for Germany at under-17 level the teenager, who has Ethiopian heritage, also spoke of his pride at following in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in world football; including one of his teammates.
“I’m very happy to be here [with the German under-17 team]. It’s a dream come true. When we were young, we all wanted to play for the German national team and to be like Mario Götze who for many years played at youth level before making the step up to the top level.
“All the players in the national team are role models for me. We’re working very hard to make it to their level. I also really like Mesut Özil, who I know at Arsenal.
“We [Arsenal’s gang of Germans] regularly see each other in the gym. We all speak German with each other and it’s nice to see them and share these things.”