Arsenal v Coventry: Gedion Zelalem finally ready to make Gunners history by being the first player to make his debut having been born after Arsene Wenger became manager
Midfielder was born four months after Wenger became Arsenal manager in September 1996
Friday 24 January 2014
Gedion Zelalem could make Arsenal history in the FA Cup tie against Coventry on Friday night. If he plays, the 16-year-old, born in Germany on 26 January 1997 of Ethiopian descent, will become the first player to play for the Gunners who was born after Arsene Wenger took the Arsenal job in September 1996.
The midfielder will reportedly sign his first professional contract with the club on his 17th birthday on Sunday, and has been an unused substitute for the club in two Premier League matches.
Zelalem was spotted by Arsenal scout and former Gunner Danny Karbassiyoon playing in the Dallas Cup, and impressed during the club's pre-season tour.
“I don’t listen to any hype or anything like that,” Zelalem had said. “I just listen to my parents and the people around me who love me. They keep me grounded, so it’s fine.
“I have really high expectations for myself, so, hopefully, I might be able to make a few appearances this season.
"But I’m still very young, so I have a lot of work to do. I will keep working hard and stay positive all the time.”
After the club's pre-season tour of Asia, it appeared that Zelalem made quite the impact on his team-mates.
“So many of the young players impress me but if I had to choose one it would be Gedion,” Carl Jenkinson had said. “He is very gifted on the ball, he is a midfielder that it is difficult to get the ball off, he has great balance and good feet and has great vision.”
Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, enthused: “He played a few passes through that I don’t know how he saw them to be honest.”
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