Smith Rowe makes defiant Arsenal statement as he details Chelsea and Spurs snubs

Arsenal’s breakthrough star Emile Smith Rowe has revealed how he might have been playing for London rivals Chelsea or Tottenham.

But he insists his beloved Gunners are “my club”.

The attacking midfielder played a starring role as Arsenal beat Spurs 2-1 in the north London derby at the Emirates, but could have instead been turning out for the lilywhites who were interested in signing him as a youngster.

Smith Rowe also revealed he was rejected by Chelsea due to his size.

“I grew up in an area that should be more Crystal Palace than anything else, but I was an Arsenal fan,” he admitted, in an interview with former Spurs star Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail. “I trialled at Chelsea and didn’t get in. Something about me not being big enough, I’ve heard.

“But Arsenal found out and picked me up.

Emile Smith Rowe was in fine form as Arsenal claimed north London Bragging rights. (Photo by NICK POTTS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“They were flexible, too. They knew I lived far away and told me to come in when I could.

Tottenham showed interest but I stood by Arsenal. They’re my club.”

Former Tottenham head of elite potential identification David Webb previously admitted that Spurs’ loss was Arsenal’s gain.

“We tried to sign him before he signed his scholarship at Arsenal,” the talent spotter confessed.

“He was a player that fitted the way Mauricio Pochettino played and even at 16 we were looking at him as a potential young player who could progress into the first team.”

Smith Rowe earned major praise for his display in the derby win, playing off the left hand side and linking up with Kieran Tierney to cause Spurs right back Matt Doherty no end of problems.

Smith Rowe could have joined Tottenham instead. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Smith Rowe could have joined Tottenham instead. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The 20-year-old almost capped a fine performance with a goal but his stunning long-range effort in the first half came crashing off the crossbar.

“I’m buzzing! As an Arsenal supporter you dream of playing in the north London derby and that was my first,” he said excitedly.

“I was unlucky not to get that goal. I rolled my foot over the ball then had a go. When the ball hit the crossbar, if you watch it back, I’d started celebrating.

“Oh mate, I thought I’d scored. Next one, though. Next one I’m going to score.”

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Smith Rowe, who has two goals and six assists in all competitions this season, also revealed he prefers playing more centrally but is happy to play a less familiar role for the team.

The young Gunner praised the fluidity of Mikel Arteta’s tactics to get the best out of him.

“I see myself as a No.10,” he said. “But at the same time, because of the way we play at Arsenal, if I am on the wing then the manager is telling me to drift inside and be natural like a No.10 anyway.

“I’m happy to play anywhere, you know? I’m an Arsenal fan. I’ll play wherever I’m needed and it’s good to be versatile.”

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