Smith Rowe opens up on mental struggles, funniest prank and Arsenal dressing room DJ

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Emile Smith Rowe during a match Credit: PA Images
Emile Smith Rowe during a match Credit: PA Images

Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe has opened up on how the club’s staff helped him through a difficult spell off the pitch.

The England international has praised the club for its dedication to providing support for players who may be struggling mentally.

During All or Nothing: Arsenal, you can see that Smith Rowe is a shy person, revealing that he expects to come across that way in the Amazon documentary.

Arsenal have the parts in place; now the manager has to assemble them into something non-streaky

Also in the show, there is a scene that shows the 22-year-old talking to Carlos Cuesta about his play.

Cuesta is a 27-year-old coach who has a great relationship with the whole squad and is someone that Smith Rowe opened up to about his struggles off the pitch before going to his own parents.

“That was tough. I went through a phase of struggling off the pitch, going through family problems,” he said. “It was tough, but when you come into work it’s always good to speak to someone and I’ve learned that from growing up.

“As a young man, it’s always difficult to open up to someone that you don’t know that well. But it was good to speak with him and he is someone I got along with really well when I first met him.

“I don’t know what made me open up, I thought: let’s just see how it goes. I wanted to try it and he’s helped me so much. Not just me, he’s always helping other players.

“It’s good to have someone like that and knowing you can go to someone, not just him; I feel like we can go to anyone at the club. The manager, the assistant, the physios, I feel like that’s what it’s like at Arsenal, you can speak to anyone.”

Smith Rowe continued: “Before I wouldn’t even speak to my family about stuff. If I was having a bad day at football or something happened outside, I wouldn’t speak to my mum or dad or my brother.

“I went to Carlos first before my family and that was different for me. Now it’s much easier to speak to my family. I see my mum every day and my dad. It’s good.”

It is discovered in the Amazon documentary that Smith Rowe’s dad is a Tottenham fan.

He discussed growing up, coming through Hale End as an Arsenal fan, while his dad was cheering on his team’s arch-rivals.

“It was a bit when I was younger. Now he’s a bit more chilled out but I think I’ve turned him a little bit,” he said.

“It’s just banter, to be fair. Me and my brother are both Arsenal fans so when we were younger we would always laugh about it. We would play in the garden and he would pretend to be a Spurs player. It’s all fun.”

On if it was awkward after scoring on the north London derby last season: “It wasn’t too awkward and to be fair the whole family were there and I had four or five friends that were there and two of them are Tottenham fans as well. So it is funny, but it’s good.

“They’re always happy for me no matter what and they definitely celebrated when I scored. They don’t want to admit it but they did.”

Despite fighting his own battles at times, Smith Rowe says there is a great atmosphere at the club, and the whole squad is one big “family”.

He was asked about the funniest prank of the last season, and he hopes the Amazon cameras recorded it so he can watch it again when the Amazon show is released on Thursday.

“Something happened last season with Thomas Partey,” Smith Rowe said. “His trainers got hung up onto the ceiling, but he couldn’t get them. I don’t know how someone stuck them up there. He came back into the changing room, looked up and wondered how they got up there.

“I think he found out it was (Nicolas) Pepe and he got water or vaseline and put it all in his trainers, it was crazy. I don’t know if it’s in the doc. That was one of the funniest pranks I’ve seen because I saw both of them happen one after the other.”

A big part of the dressing room before matches is music. During the documentary, you can hear D-Block Europe playing, and Smith Rowe was asked who the club DJ is, giving a bit of a surprising answer.

“The DJ is Rob Holding,” he revealed. “He’s got the playlist and plays everything. Spanish music, English music, American, he’s got it all.

“There’s one song – Rick Ross ‘Ima Boss’ – we play that before every game so that is the song we normally walk out to. I don’t know if it’s in the doc but last season that was the one, I think it’s going to change for next season.”

Holding speaks on Arsenal Credit: PA Images
Holding speaks on Arsenal Credit: PA Images

The squad spent time in Germany and the United States this pre-season, before rounding off their friendly campaign with a superb 6-0 win over Sevilla at the Emirates.

Asked what the players get up to on their time off, Smith Rowe discussed what they did to relax this summer, as well as the new players having to speak English at the dinner table.

“A lot has changed recently,” he explained. “With the new players coming in there is a language barrier for some players. We had a rule this pre-season where everyone had to speak English at the dinner table. (It’s) just a better way of communicating with each other. At every meal, there’s a rule where they (the coaches) pick the table for who you have to sit with.

“In terms of activities, we did a games thing in Germany against each other. It’s good to get to know each other off the pitch, we are a family. It’s stuff like that which helps us get closer together and get us more chemistry off and on the pitch.”

Smith Rowe has come a long way in a short amount of time. From playing on loan with Huddersfield in the Championship to wearing the No. 10 shirt for his boyhood club, the 22-year-old admits that he has really felt the step up to playing in the Premier League.

“The intensity of the games, it’s very different to the Championship,” he said when asked what surprised him when he started to play at the top level. “The Championship is still very physical, everyone is very tough and strong and you can see how much it means to everyone.

“In general, the intensity everyone plays at, it’s every game in the Premier League, it’s really difficult.”

On his most difficult games and individual battles, he continued: “Man City and Liverpool are probably the hardest games I’ve ever played. Kyle Walker, you can’t get past him, then Trent (Alexander-Arnold) as well. Defending well, crossing it in on the other end.

“It’s tough. The intensity and the atmosphere at both stadiums, Anfield is crazy, I couldn’t believe it, to be honest, I couldn’t hear myself speaking.”

Smith Rowe has played in a number of different positions under Arteta, and he admits that he doesn’t have a preferred position to play, and is willing to adapt.

“You’ve got to adapt,” the youngster said. “I don’t have a preferred position.

“We all train in different positions. I’ll train as a false nine sometimes or left-wing and midfield. You’ve got to adapt to it and as I said, he (Arteta) helps us so much and gives us all the information to help us improve.”


You can watch All or Nothing: Arsenal on Amazon Prime Video.

Episodes 1-3 are released on Thursday, August 4.

Episodes 4-6 – Thursday, August 11.

Episodes 7-8 – Thursday, August 18.

Sign up or start a free trial here.

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