Arsenal, after drawing the game 1-1 in normal time, were defeated 3-1 on penalties by La Liga giants Atletico Madrid in the International Champions Cup, however it’s not the scoreline that’s grabbing the limelight, it’s Arsenal’s promising 17-year-old prospect Emile Smith Rowe, who dispatched a sublime equaliser for the Gunners in the 47th minute of the encounter.
Luciano Vietto put Atleti in the ascendancy in the 41st minute and Arsenal were in need of a hero to restore parity in the tie, and just two days before his 18th birthday, it was Smith Rowe who stepped up to the plate with a pinpoint pile driver from the edge of the 18-yard box, after elusively slaloming through the Spanish club’s rearguard, on his first senior debut for his employers in Singapore.
The fledgling left-winger was handed an opportunity to compete against last season’s Europa League victors as a result of his tireless work ethic on the training field, a spurring factor which Unai Emery is evidently very enthused by, so much so that the former Paris Saint-Germain boss had nothing but glowing plaudits to bestow upon the England U18 international, who’ll certainly have more game time coming his way before the domestic schedule commences.
“He is 17 years old but he has grown up in the academy and we need to give the young players the opportunity to work with us every day and play matches like today,” Emery said to the media, via Sky Sports.
“They are working hard in training to be involved with the first team.
“Today I am very happy with his work on the pitch, but not only today. It’s every day. He’s starting today’s match because his performances have been good in every training session.”
Smith Rowe is undoubtedly the most exciting homegrown starlet to have graduated from the club’s renowned youth system since Jack Wilshere, and in a bid to galvanise the other budding professionals in the fold, including Reiss Nelson, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Eddie Nketiah, Emery challenged them to follow in their teammate’s flourishing footsteps and make a name for themselves as and when a chance is issued to them.
“I think this is the moment for the young players to show quality like Emile did. Historically, Arsenal has worked with young players to give them the chance to work with the first team, for them to show their quality in each match.” He added.
“Today I think that every player played well in this game, against a big team.
“For Smith Rowe to score is very good for him and the team. What’s important for us is that every young player is working very hard.”