This summer, we're featuring some of the players who have appeared in our academy Young Gun section of the match day programme in 2020/21. Next, we have attacking midfielder, Marcelo Flores.
My journey to Arsenal has been an interesting one.
It all started at a very, very young age because I come from a family where almost everyone plays football. My dad was a pro player in Mexico and my mum used to play in a masters tournament in Canada, and that was how they met. Then you have my uncle and grandfather who are obsessed with football too, so growing up, all I ever used to do was play around the house.
I constantly had a ball at my feet and because of that, I was already playing with four year olds when I was just two. I was living in Canada at the time and as I got older and moved through grassroots, I joined an academy called the Guelph and my dad became the technical director.
I’ve got some great memories: I would literally spend all day, everyday training. It was always really cold in Canada so we used to train inside a dome and even on the days that I wasn’t meant to be playing, I’d turn up for extras. The academy was an hour away from my house, so I always thought I might as well just stay there and train. I loved it!
Since being at Arsenal, I’ve had a few people ask me how my fitness is so good and whether it’s just come naturally, but it’s no secret. For as long as I can remember I’ve played football seven days a week and that’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never really been into social media or video games, so any spare time I ever had, I’d spend it playing football.
My sisters are the same too. My older sister (by one year) plays for Chelsea now and for years she used to play in the boys age group, while I would play for the year above me, so that meant we always used to be on the same team! We’ve always had pretty good chemistry on the pitch.
Anyway, after spending a few years there, my dad was called in for an under-15 women’s World Cup in the Cayman Islands for two months and he brought me along with him. He was the coach and I was always around him being a nuisance and trying to join in, until this guy came up to us and said that he’s running a football camp for kids around my age and asked if I’d like to join in. As it turns out, that man was Steve Foley and after the camp he said that I should come to England to trial for Ipswich Town.
We couldn’t believe it and over the next couple of months, I went on trial a few times and managed to score against all the big London clubs, so they kept inviting me back for a year until I eventually joined and the whole family moved over. The first proper year was really difficult for me because I was still a Canadian kid and I had to get used to all the English boys and their banter. The English game felt so much quicker and dirtier too, so I learnt a lot of new things and that set me up well for the next season when I became one of the top performers of the age group above me.
I remember at Ipswich they bought this machine that helps you practice your passing and technique and I would spend hours upon hours trying to master this little game – and in the end I set a record for the whole academy! I just love training.
But as for my move to Arsenal, I was playing two years up at the time for Ipswich and we used to play against them quite a lot. At one point, we played against them three times in three weeks and in every game, I honestly felt like I played some of the best football of my life.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was playing against my future team-mates. Greg Lincoln was the Arsenal coach and after he gave the club a really positive report on me, it eventually went through. I came to Arsenal at the end of under-14s level and after earning my spot, I was offered a scholarship and ever since I’ve been absolutely loving it here.
Everyone has been so good to me, from my team-mates to the coaches and staff at Colney, and I really appreciate that. Per Mertesacker has always looked out for me and my family and now I’m desperate to repay the faith everyone has shown in me.
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