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Resources Jan 27, 2014

Much praise, three D.C.-area clubs mentioned in Daily Mail story on Gedion Zelalem

By Liviu Bird

Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem, who spent part of his childhood in Maryland, made headlines with his first-team debut on Friday in the F.A. Cup. What followed was a flurry of stories announcing that manager Arsène Wenger would sign the 17-year-old to his first professional contract.

Much has been made particularly of the fact that Zelalem would be the first player Wenger has signed who was born after the Frenchman took charge of the Gunners. Wenger has been at Arsenal since 1996, winning three Premier League titles and four F.A. Cups in that time.

The Daily Mail wrote an extensive piece profiling Zelalem, drawing comparisons to FC Barcelona stars Cesc Fàbregas, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi. Arsenal teammate Jack Wilshere was particularly effusive in his praise of the sort-of-American teenager.

For fans in the Washington area, though, the gem might have been in seeing their area club named as part of Zelalem’s development path: “So, despite his tender years, Zelalem is already a globe-trotter. When he first started kicking a ball, he was on the books of Hertha Berlin, but his parents, who had taken asylum in the German capital in 1990, moved on to Washington in 2006, which is home to a large Ethiopian community.

“There, he played for junior teams MSC United, Bethesda Soccer Club and Olney Rangers, before being recommended to Arsenal’s North American scout Danny Karbassiyoon, whom fans may remember as a young hopeful about a decade ago, at the Dallas Cup tournament.”

The Daily Mail also embedded this video of Zelalem speaking of Arsenal while he was still playing in the U.S.:

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