After Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa last month, in which Emile Smith Rowe scored the Gunners’ third goal, Mike Arteta was full of praise for the 20 year old’s performance, and also referenced some changes he had made to his lifestyle.
“He’s changed the way he’s living a little bit as well, and some habits that he had,” said the Arsenal boss. “He’s been superb.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what he was referring to, but we now have some insight after Smith Rowe’s first call up to the senior England squad. He was put straight on media duties (new face = positive stories, we guess), and spoke about how he’s changed his ways in terms of his diet, in terms of what he eats and drinks.
“What he was talking about was my diet,” said Smith Rowe (£).
“I didn’t used to eat that well. I used to get cramp after 60 minutes. Before games I wasn’t really that hydrated.”
That step-up to the senior side has required him to forego some of his favourites, like chicken and chocolate.
“I like Nando’s a lot,” he continued. “They [Arsenal] are strict but I didn’t really listen.
“That’s where I went wrong. But now I’m listening, all the time. I’ve tried to cut out chocolate and takeaways. The club have sorted me out a chef called Chris and he comes to my house.
“He’s got a couple of pasta dishes and that’s good. I didn’t used to like fish but now I’m into it. Salmon and stuff.”
Focus on that side of his career is obviously beneficial, but he also spoke about the influence Arteta has had to what he does on the pitch.
“He says, ‘Get on the ball, enjoy yourself and be confident,” he said. “‘Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because the squad is quite young.’
“Tactically, there’s always a lot of information and it’s hard to take in at times, so you have to focus.”
Smith Rowe has also been taken by the latest Arsenal terrace anthem, extolling the virtues of him and Bukayo Saka to a Status Quo classic.
“Growing up, coming through the academy, it makes it extra special that they’ve got a song about us and it’s funny sometimes when we hear it on the pitch,” he said.
“It’s crazy. Me and Bukayo are always laughing about it and sometimes it gets played in the changing room, some of the lads are making a joke about it.
“It’s funny. I didn’t think the fans would’ve made a song about us!”