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April 2021

Zelalem, a view from Germany

By Walter Broeckx

It seems that every season we are discovering or seeing a player joining the first team from within the youth teams.

Of course in some cases we see new talents that have been in the mix of the first team before like Oxlade-Chamberlain. Last season one could say was his first one in the first team where he really came forward. In a way we have been blessed maybe this season. As we have seen another young player stepping up to the first team. Serge Gnabry this season proved on every occasion what a great talent he is and what a big player he can become in the next years for Arsenal.

But there is another player that has caught the eye and that has raised high hopes. Some say he is the new Cesc, or could be a new Cesc. I always want to be very careful with such things. For me Zelalem doesn’t need to be the new Cesc. Certainly not with the way it ended. Let us just want that Zelalem will become… Zelalem.

As Zelalem has had a busy youth in terms of travelling around the world he has also a few nationalities. Let us take a look.  His father was from Ethiopia and in 1990 went to Germany and got asylum and lived in the Berlin area.  Gedion himself was born 7 years later in Germany. Because of his father being Ethopian and him being born in Germany he can choose between both nationalities to play for. But it doesn’t stop there.

Because his father went to the USA for his work and Gedion went with him he also could choose to play for the USA if he wished. As he now has been in England with his family since last year I wonder if he also could once be an England international at some stage in his career. But for the moment he is representing Germany on youth level and if I would be him I would stick to the German nationality and team. Might be the best option and also might be great for him because he has already a few team mates who play for Arsenal and for Germany.

Now we have heard from people around the academy that Zelalem often trains with the first team already. Despite him being only 16-17 years old. His performances in the pre-season tour in Asia will have no doubt influenced that. The way he entered the games at such a young age was amazing. And how he performed was stunning. Keeping in mind he was only 16 years and has a very slim frame. Something he probably will work on in the next years.

So how does the U17 coach of Germany looks at him? Thanks to a lucky hit on the internet I had the chance to find some words about him on the DFB (German FA) website.  As Germany has a wonderful youth program with lots of new talents coming out from everywhere and of which Özil is already one of the oldest but that has players like Goetze, Draxler, Kroos, Muller, … and so many others showing that they know how to work with kids and turn them in to great players.

So what does the U17 coach has to say about Gedion Zelalem? Christian Wück is the manager of the German U17 team and he said about him: “Gedion is very quick, technical very strong and for his age he has an amazing ability to play the game. And one of his strongest points is his calmness.  That is one of his biggest assets it seems. He never seems to panic and always makes and creates space for him of for team mates.

But the managers also had to say a few things that show that Gedion still has a lot of work to do. And he also has even a lot of room for improvement. He said this:  “He is not yet a finished article as a player. His defensive work must improve a lot.  And also his physical presence has to improve. He is not yet as strong as other kids from his age.

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But he is sure that when you look the character of Gedion those are things that they are sure that he will work on those things as such is his way of doing things. When you say on what he has to improve he will work on it. In a quite and silent way but he will take it on board and make sure that it will improve over time.  They are sure that he will do his best to show that he listen to the good advice.

A not so positive thing is that the German U17 will play in Serbia somewhere in March to qualify for the EC for the U17 that is played later on in Malta. For U17 coach Wück it is clear that he counts on Zelalem a lot to qualify for the EC. As he said : Our offensive game profits hugely from his amazing passes forward and over the defenders.

The bad thing is that I don’t know if we will need him in that period of the season at Arsenal. It will depend a lot on the injuries of course. As for the moment Zelalem is very much with the first team I can imagine that Wenger will not be too keen to let him go. On the other hand if we can recover players like Ramsey, Jack Wilshere in that period we could let him gain more international experience with Germany.

So the final conclusion about Gedion Zelalem from a German point of view is that he has the potential to become one hell of a player. But he still has a lot of work to do. And well then I think it is fair to say that with Wenger as his mentor we just have the ideal manager on board to make sure that he does all that work.

His roots provide him with the best possible attributes. His Ethiopian background gives him a lot of athletics and running abilities. His German background will make sure that he has his feet firmly on the ground and knows that the key to the top is working hard.

And with the help from his German team mates at Arsenal he has the ideal examples on what it takes to reach the top.

So another mouthwatering prospect to look forward too. Will he break through already next season? The things I have seen from him so far might indicate at it. But even then he will only be 17 years old at the start of the new season. Still so young.
Bring him according to his character. Calm, quiet and serene. I will probably be over the moon when he really makes it. I have seen him play in Germany for the U17 when he just came back after an injury he suffered early in the season. And you could see all what the German youth coach described.

Imagine in some 10 years time we don’t refer to him as the new Cesc but as the one and only Gedion. That is what he should aim for.

Gedion, let’s Get it on…

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9 comments to Zelalem, a view from Germany

  • Dan


  • Valentin

    He is unlikely to play for the U.S.A, despite Jurgen Klinnsmann wanting him in the U.S. Team. It would be too great risk for his career.
    AFC want him to stay with the German team. Because he is not born in the USA, nor are his parent U.S. Citizens, Zelalem would have to apply for U.S. Citizenship. As a young resident and clearly a future athlete he would qualify. However he would then automatically lose his German citizenship. German nationality law stipulates that if you apply for another country citizenship (that may be limited to Occidental countries), you then automatically lose your German citizenship. He would then have to apply for a work permit to be able to play for Arsenal. That application would fail as he would not meet any of the criteria. He would then have to apply for a special talent dispensation work permit. Which he might not get.
    Also by losing his German citizenship, he would have the same problem in all the European Clubs.
    At his current stage, that would be a very damaging move.

    Regarding Ethiopia, I don’t think he has ever set foot there. I am not even sure if his family kept their Ethiopian nationality when they were granted asylum in Germany. Some countries have laws that stipulate that if you are granted political asylum away from them, you then automatically lose your citizenship. Some countries allow you to challenge the rule, but you need to do so in person. Which quite often defeat the purpose of getting asylum in the first place.

  • jambug

    Which begs the question…why was Martin Keown on 5 Live the other day slagging us off for our lack of players from the youth system ?

    Yet another ex Goon gone to the dark side.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I admit that I had the name wrong in the title of all places.

    After a flogging by Billy The Dog, a beating up by the rest of the Untold team I will now dig a big hole and hide myself in shame till the game tomorrow starts.

    Oh well….

  • Brickfields Gunners

    This boy is a very hot prospect and I’m sure he’ll be guided well by the manager and the club to achieve his full potential.
    Having first seen him play on tv in the pre-season tour and a few times for the first team , he is awesome .
    Awaiting the day he becomes a regular and key member of the first team.

  • Brickfields Gunners


    And God Said to Adam…

    God said: ‘ Adam, I
    Want you to do
    Something for Me.’

    Adam said: ‘Gladly,
    Lord, what do You
    Want me to do?’

    God said: ‘Go down
    Into that valley.’

    Adam said: ‘What’s a Valley?’

    God explained it to
    Him. Then God said:
    ‘Cross the river.’

    Adam said: ‘What’s a River?’

    God explained that
    To him, and then said:
    ‘Go over to the hill….’

    Adam said: ‘What is a

    So, God explained to
    A dam what a hill was.

    He told Adam : ‘On
    The otherside of the
    Hill you will find a

    Adam said: : ‘What’s a

    After God explained ,
    He said: ‘In the cave
    You will find a woman.’

    Adam said: : ‘What’s a Woman?’

    God explained
    That to him, too.

    Then, God said: ‘I
    Want you to

    Adam said: ‘How do
    I do that?’

    God first said (under
    His breath): ‘Geez…..’

    And then, just like Everything else, God Explained that to
    Adam, as well.

    So, Adam goes down
    Into the valley,

    Across the river, and
    Over the hill, into the
    Cave, and finds the

    Then, in about five Minutes, he was back.
    God, His patience
    Wearing thin, said
    Angrily: ‘What is it

    Adam looked at him apologetically and asked:








    ‘What’s a headache?’

  • Rantetta

    I posted this before. I love the music – as well as his play.

    GZ skills:

  • Brickfiels, Magic thank you !

  • TonyH

    Nice article although a little stereotypical with the Ethipoian running bit…