After securing a big-money move to the Emirates in the summer of 2011 from Southampton, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started his Arsenal career full of nerves.
But a calming influence settled him down, the source of which may come as a surprise to most Arsenal fans.
In an interview with Arsenal Player, Oxlade-Chamberlain described his first training session with the Gunners and how it was Emmanuel Eboue who helped him feel at ease.
A nervous start
He said: “I remember my first training session, I think I was just coming back from an ankle injury as well. As I arrived, my first session was with Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Eboue - just the three of us doing passing drills.
“I remember I couldn’t even pass the ball more than five yards in the first 10 minutes.”
Clearly, at the age of 17, stepping out onto Arsenal’s training pitch would be a daunting experience for any player, and the England midfielder was no different. After just recovering from an injury and arriving for quite a formidable price tag for such a young player, £15million, he must have felt the pressure straight away.
The now 21-year-old said: “Eboue made me feel comfortable and welcome with his jokes and his laughing and I settled into it a little bit more.
“It’s been a great experience for me, now I feel like this is home.”
It’s strange how a player who was once booed off by his own fans and was never really popular amongst the Arsenal faithful could have had such an effect on a player who is now clearly a fan favourite.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is making his way back from a groin injury that has kept him out of action for a month and expects to be making a comeback to the first team very soon. It was an injury that came at a time when he had found a regular place in Arsene Wenger’s team and was in good form.
He said: “It’s the first year I’ve been a regular in the team and I’ve played quite a lot of games.
“That’s a positive step forward for me and it’s what I need and what I would have wanted to have happened this year - for me to push on.”
With Santi Cazorla being in such fine form and Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil returning ahead of him, the young England international will have his work cut out to get back in the side when he returns to full fitness.
It will certainly make life harder for Wenger when he has to pick his team, but it's certainly not a bad problem to have such attacking talent at his disposal.
Does Oxlade-Chamberlain deserve a place in Arsenal's starting line-up? Have your say in the comments below.
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