Emile Smith Rowe was born on 28 July 2000 in Croydon, South London. He grew up just like many other English children: bread, school, football… and Premier League! However, for little Emile, who dreams the sensations of the professional football, the journey is not all smooth.
At the age of 9 he had the chance to join the Chelsea Academy, but the test was unsuccessful, and he was not admitted. It was a huge setback, but from this disappointment he bounced back. Only a year later, he entered the Academy… but the Arsenal’s one!
It soon becomes clear what little Emile can do: when he achieves a goal, he does not let go of it, he always tries to improve!
They soon realised that they were dealing with a very special player at the Emirates Stadium. At barely 18 years of age, the club entrusted him with the red and white number 55 jersey to take part in the International Champions Cup.
The opponents are renowned: Mbappé and Neymar for Paris Saint Germain and Cholo Simeone for Atletico. Smith Rowe turned up with two outstanding performances and a goal against Atletico that showed off a talent with enormous potential.
His style of play is that of the modern 10: technical, physically strong, and ready to sacrifice. His characteristics allow him to play in several positions. He is compared to De Bruyne because of the ability of playing as attacking midfielder, the Italian “trequartista”, left or right forward or central midfielder, keeping the same level of performance.
“You immediately recognise a talent like that. When he trained with the first team, he showed great personality from the beginning, as if he did not feel the pressure. He really impressed me!” Jack Wilshere
As well as his teammates, Arsenal coach, Unai Emery, was enchanted. In the 2018-19 season, Smith Rowe slowly entered the line-up of the Spanish coach and his impact was massive! He made his Europa League debut against Vorskla, becoming the first ‘millennial’ to wear the Gunners‘ jersey in Europe. Eight days later, he scored his first professional goal against Qarabag, becoming the first 2000-year-old to score with this club in Europe.
Emile goes fast and the Arsenal Training Ground understands the need to take care of his talent. Between 2019 and 2020, they sent him acquire experience on loan. The competition is fierce at Arsenal, and young Emile needs to play regularly.
The experience in Germany at Red Bull Leipzig was not lucky: he made only 3 appearances. Thus, Arsenal decided to transfer him to Huddersfield Town in the Championship. Here, he grew up and improved with 19 appearances and 2 goals. His level skyrocketed and new manager Mikel Arteta decided to hold on to him for the new season.
Arsenal’s current season is not the best: the top players are disappointing expectations, but the youngsters are bringing hope to the gloomy Gunners fans. Bukayo Saka’s talent has exploded, and Emile Smith Rowe’s has been confirmed. His appearances in the line-up have increased, so that he has become irreplaceable.
In December 2020, a personal chapter in’s young career closed. From Chelsea to Chelsea… an 11-year journey! From the rejection by the Chelsea Academy to the 3-1 win over the Blues on Boxing Day.
The media named him as the best player on the pitch. Despite the difficult years, Arsenal fans feel they have found the player to invest in: “The Local Baby”.
Now North London is his home, he is happy at the Emirates and the fans go crazy for him.
Photography from England vs Portugal U21 by Giacomo Cosua
Translation by Luca Marin