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When a superkid in Flanders names Arsenal as his dream, you know we’re going in the right direction

By Walter Broeckx

This is a little story of the football in my home country.  You have to wait a bit to see the link with Arsenal but I promise you, it will come.

Last year I was appointed as a ref for a game involving the youth  team of a first division club in Antwerp against one from Bruges.  I did my game and I noticed the captain of the home team who really showed great skills, technique, energy. He was a giant on the pitch amongst the other players.

After the game at the reception I talked with the responsible person of the youth system of that club about that player and he said that there had been scouts from all over Europe to see him play. On the day they reckoned he had a rather mediocre performance but I really was rather impressed, and was I would remember his name as I had given him a yellow card (which he deserved).

The person I spoke gave names of teams that had come to see him and I must say it was impressive. Liverpool, Everton, yes I can’t help it, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, PSG, Lille – they where there on the day – and many other teams had come and wanted a word with the boy who was becoming 16 years old.

So at the end of the season there was a lot in the press because his club had received all kind of offers from different clubs and the players’ parents had been talking to different clubs.

As the clubs official had said to me: the boy was rather down to earth and had already said that he didn’t want to go to another country, just to waste time.  He would rather stay with his home club in that case.  He then received an offer from his own club to stay with them and he was added to the first team squad to try to learn things at home.

So this weekend he was on the bench for a home game and after half an hour the playmaker of his team had to be replaced after a horror tackle from the other team which had left him with an open wound of some 8 cm (you could see all the way until his bone). And  the manager brought the youngster, 16 years old, to make his debut in our premier league.

Well it can only happen in dreams but now it was in real life. The home team was 0-1 behind when he came on and after 90 minutes they had won 3-1 and the young debutant had scored 2 goals as a midfielder-playmaker.

Today of course he was big news in the media. He had to give some interviews, which he did rather well I must say. Very low profile, down to earth and telling people he still  had to learn a lot, …

On the local TV channel which we have here he also gave a good interview and talked of the danger of being overhyped, that he was not demanding a starting place in the team, but just learning and trying to do his best and maybe who knows at the end of the season if he could get a start that would be more than great for him. So again very humble and down to earth stuff from the kid.

At the end the reporter asked him that if he would have a dream to come through what would it be in football? And the young man said: “Well if I would have a dream then it would be to play in the Champions league”.

The reporter asked : “Do you have any preference in which team?” And the kid answered: “No I don’t have a favorite foreign team but if there is one team I would like to play with, it would be Arsenal because they really play some magnificent football.” The reporter then said: “Well if Vermaelen made it, maybe you can do it too.”

Now I know this is just a fairy tale like it happens every now and then in football but I really think that 15 years ago it never would have appeared in the head of a young boy to name Arsenal.  Arsenal was known in the football world because of the “boring, boring Arsenal” myth.  That was all.

But now we have a team and a way of playing considered, known as Wengerball one might say, all over the world as one of the best there is to see. This we owe to our manager and his way of working with the youngsters. We play the best football in the world, we have some great players, a manager who sticks to his principles off beautiful and attacking play.

So the dream of good young kids over the world is not to play for the “big” clubs like Madrid, MU, Inter…. No, we are the team good, young football players would love to play for.  I know, we don’t get anything for this, it won’t win us titles, it won’t give us anything…but pride. Pride to be a part of that great Gunners and Gooners family. Pride of being a supporter of the best club the world has ever seen.

A part of the legacy of the manager that would make us the best club in the world, and part of the present where the best manager of the world makes the best team in the world and plays the best football in the world.  You would be amazed of the great amount of sympathy there is over the world for our team.

We don’t know if the boy is really going to make it in the long term, but if he ever would come to the Arsenal, if he would be good enough, be sure I will let you know. You would have read it here first.

Walter Broeckx has been a passionate Arsenal follower since 1979 from Flanders, Belgium.  For the last couple of years he is the main news reporter for the Arsenal fans in Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg where he produces a daily portion of Arsenal news. His passion for football goes so far that he even is a referee. In the real world he is married, has 4 children including some Gooners, and he works as a civil servant involved in planning permission in a small town.

Over on the MAKING THE ARSENAL today: life and football one hundred years ago – including a couple of surprises.

21 comments to When a superkid in Flanders names Arsenal as his dream, you know we’re going in the right direction

  • What was the players name?

  • Jazbo

    A nice story, but let’s face it most young players would love to have the opertunity to play for the Aresnal, look a Arron Ramsey he had the choice, Man U or Arsenal, look at him now, a first team player who’s also played in the champions league, is that a dream come true for the boy or what!
    Unfortunatley not everyone who comes to Arsenal can make it in the EPL but with the education and training they more often than not go on to have a good career in a lower league club and some times make it back to a team in the lower half of the EPL so it’s not always doom and gloom.
    At the moment we have an abundance of young players such as Wiltshire, Ramsey, Gibbs, Merida, Bartley, Coqulin, Treore, Sinnu, Eastmond, Cruise, all these players can make it but the big question is will they wait?????

  • simianwolverine

    The kid is Mats Rits. Fifa.com mentioned the match and his impact.

  • soulrebel

    Thank you for posting this story, what a nice read.

    All the best to Walter and lets hope his dream is realised and we see him in the mighty Red and White in a few years!

  • Jazbo

    Sorry but i do need to add to the list of young players above.

    Barazite, Lansbury, Randell, JET, Murphy, Ayling, Pedro Botelho, Harvard Norveit, Watt.

    How many of these boys from the reserves will make it at Arsenal???

  • dfunkydog

    Nice article Walter, at a time when everyone is going on about trophies it’s good to see that even without those trophies Arsenal is recognised as the place to be for great football.

    I don’t understand why you didn’t name the player, it’s easy enough to find out.

    BTW his goals helped me win £102.60 on the weekend.

  • FunGunner

    What a great story, Walter – thank you for relating it.

    How come only SOME of your own kids are gooners? Sort it out, please! 🙂

  • t00farg0ne

    Looks like it’s Mats Rits

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mats_Rits

  • Cape Gooner

    Thanks Walter. The bit about pride really resonates. Tony, I read your book excerpt this morning – I will definitely be buying it! Can I get a discount for multiple copies?

    Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth blog has a good article today on who should be our DM against Liverpool in the CC.

  • walter

    The name of the boy is Mats Rits. And in fact, I didn’t mentionned it but even Real Madrid came over. But they thought that paying 2.000.000 euro for the kid was not enough. They wanted to wait untill they can pay at least 80 million. 😉

  • weg

    Nice post. Thank you. It’s true that being the club that young footballers aspire to play for IS something to be proud of. Not the same as winning trophies, though.

  • The post raises that really interesting point: where do we fit in all the players coming through?

    And what a contrast that is to the cries of last season about buy this player, buy that player. The fact is we already have a full squad, and although we will be hard hit if once again our entire back four get injured at once, you can’t bring in big name players just to have them on hand in case that happens.

    The production line of youth at Arsenal is so strong that now we are worried about fitting all the kids in for the little cup matches! That is some achievement.

    And don’t forget we are top of both the reserve league and the youth league. That latter stat is amazing because the youth league team lost its best players to the reserves and to the first team!

    In the years to come this will be looked back on as the start of the GOLDEN ERA.

    Meanwhile, there’s a new post on http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk about football and life 100 years ago. I think you’ll be surprised by the bit about women’s football.

  • SDK

    The rate at which we are going, a Barca like world beating squad consisting mostly of youth products(even if not 100% academy ones which might not be possible due to the 90 minute rule,but at least ‘home-grown’ players)

    I mean, look at it, Wishere and Ramsey and two young players that have a good chance to go to the very top level and there are more and more players coming in, not to forget our batch of 20-22 year olds who have all matured into good players and are still improving.

    The article about the growth of stature of Arsenal was a fantastic one and I believe, Arsenal is now the number one destination of young players. Even Belgian sensation in the French league Eden Hazard was quoted saying that he’d love to move to Arsenal.

    The loans are reducing and financial results are record-breaking. The team at all levels, is right up there with the best. The support world-wide is great, the team is young, amazing and improving.

    The good times of Arsenal are on and will be on for a long long time.

  • Again we are wondering if all the quality youngsters at our club
    will make it to the 1st team. We forget that time flies on that
    many of them will be filling in soon. Much as I’m glad to have Rossicky back, I’m sure he will be unable to play full 90 minutes
    every game in the next 3 years. when he is 32. In that time, Merida
    and Barazaite will be the main men.

    May i also mention that Rossicky’s return has boosted Fabrega’s
    performance and increased the team’s creativity: Those beauties
    Rossicky delivers from the middle of the park are absolutely
    glorious. Welcome back Little Motzart.

  • You’ll consider this off-topic but it’s too good not to share: http://www.101greatgoals.com/the-sun-screw-up-in-their-tale-of-barcelonas-pursuit-of-arsenals-eboue/37969/

    the sun caught making up Eboue to Barca stories.

  • Abhishek

    Hi

    Can some one please tell me how many leagues do we play.

    1) PL
    2) Reserve league
    3) Youth league
    4) Under 16,12???

    It would be really nice cause that would give me some idea of players.

  • walter

    Fungunner,

    1 son is as addicted as I am and another follows the games when ever he can. My oldest son only thinks about his studies at university and keeps an eye in the distance.
    My doughter only likes Cesc because… well she’s almost 16 and then you like Ronaldo or Cesc one could say. She would take them both. 😉 But she doesn’t really cares about football. Just her mother…..

    But now I think of it…. must have their DNA checked…. not a Gooner like I… did we have a milkman in those days ???

  • walter

    The thing is when I saw him in the interview and when the question was asked about foreign teams I expected the usual names as Madrid, MU, Inter, Barcelona.
    And instead he only gave one name not as a fan or supporter but as a team which came in to his mind as some kind of : “to play in a team that plays football like they do” is a dream.
    Maybe if Arsenal had made an offer they would have come over to London but our name never gets mentionned. So maybe we went and didn’t think he was good enough, which is possible off course (one swallow doesn’t bring spring).
    So really don’t know the future but outside England there really is great admiration for Arsenal and Wenger. I think if football fans over the world could vote on a best CL final it would be Arsenal-Barcelona.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice post Walter -hope this kid makes it to the top and joins Arsenal -I’ll
    be keeping a lookout for further mentions of him. As for your kids not all being Gooners ,it happens to all of us – my sons support Man Ure and Chelski despite my best attempts .In the coming years Arsenal will dominate
    and they will see the light and return to their true faith.

  • LRV

    Nice to read about the kid, Walter. I hope his dream of playing for the Arsenal comes true.

  • anup

    bonkers :p!!!they come to arsenal so that they can show their talent at the highest level,and then sell themselves to the highest bidder…..isn’t that obvious…..there’s no contract negotiations for rosisky..n i bet he will leave us like flamini n then there will be a post from u ….again praising wenger for selling another player past his prime n blah blah…