Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed how years of watching Arsenal on television helped him secure his £15million move to the Emirates Stadium.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had long been linked with the Gunners, finally completed his transfer from Southampton on Monday. And the attacking midfielder, who turns 18 on Monday, explained after signing his long-term contract how years of studying the way Arsenal play under Arsene Wenger influenced his own game.
"I've never really been a mad fan of anyone but Arsenal definitely were one of the teams I've always followed," he told Arsenal TV Online. "I think that's the best way to learn to play football, watching the boys play at Arsenal."
No player inspired Oxlade-Chamberlain more than his new club's all-time top scorer, Thierry Henry.
"As I was growing up, he was always star man on Match of the Day," Oxlade-Chamberlain said of the former Arsenal captain.
"All the highlights were basically of him because he was always scoring, week in, week out. The goals he scored were fantastic and the play he created around him with the rest of the players, it was just exciting to watch."
The man currently in possession of Henry's old number 14 jersey has proven just as much of an inspiration to the Gunners new boy.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's career is almost a mirror image of that of Theo Walcott, who has established himself with Arsenal and England since his £12million move four and a half years ago.
Oxlade-Chamberlain said: "The way I saw Theo when he left Southampton and took off here, it's been really encouraging for me. He's a great player.
"To go on like he has to play for England and score goals for England, and do as well as he has for Arsenal, it definitely gave me confidence and maybe helped my decision a bit more."
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