With Santi Cazorla’s career potentially over at Arsenal after a latest injury setback, Charlie Gilmour may well be the heir to his throne.
Gilmour has yet to make his first-team debut for Arsenal, but he made the matchday squad in September when Arsenal travelled to Belarus to face BATE Borisov in the Europa League. Personally, I think he’ll make his debut before the season comes to a close.
The Arsenal youngster plays for the Scottish national team at youth level, but he was born in Brighton. His dad, Ian Gilmour, used to play for Motherwell, and set up the Ian Gilmour Football Academy in Brighton.
Arsenal spotted Charlie, and invited him to a trial at Hale End when he was just six years old. The midfielder said the opportunity his overwhelming for him at the time.
“I was speechless because I hadn’t even thought about football in a serious way like that. I was just playing for fun. I went along to train and pretty soon after I was signed.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so happy because I am an Arsenal fan and I’ve been with my club ever since.
“Now I have a chance of achieving my dream and playing for the first-team. Plus I want to pay back my mum and dad for all the years of commitment and sacrifice.”
It’s been 12 years since that first trial, and Gilmour is now becoming an established member of the u23s, having made the step up from the u18s this year.
But after making his debut for the top academy side on Monday, September 25, Charlie was surprised with the chance to travel with the first-team to play BATE Borisov just three days later.
He told reporters he had no idea he was about to get the call up until after making his u23 debut, saying: “The manager Arsene Wenger only told me the day before that I was travelling.
“I was very surprised but felt ready for it. To get into the first team shows I have been doing well recently and means that the manager has faith in me. I am very grateful to him.”
Charlie also described club captain and future Head of Academy Per Mertesacker as a “big help” in his development, but says the player he looks up to most on the pitch is Santi Cazorla.
“I use both feet and am developing my skills with him as a model,” Gilmour explained. “He has such quick feet and can go in any direction – that’s why opponents don’t know what he’s going to do.
“Santi has so much footballing talent but he also has the talent to use it. He gives everything for every minute of every game. That’s why I admire him so much.”
The boost Gilmour received from his first senior call up has been evident in his u23 matches since then, with two goals in two games from midfield against Tottenham and Swansea. It must be nice to get your first goal for the u23s against local rivals.
Although the youngster has generally played as a defensive midfielder in the past, he’s starting to add the goals and passing to become an all-rounder, which should stand him in good stead for first-team opportunities in the current formation.
Now it’s just about patiently waiting for that chance, and taking it when it comes.