Arsenal signed 16-year-old Estonian goalkeeper, Karl Jakob Hein, during the summer, but the player also had trials with Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United, so why did he pick Arsenal?
Karl Hein signed for Arsenal during the summer from Nomme United in his home country and former Arsenal man, Mart Poom, seems to have been integral to him coming to London, even if he doesn’t think so himself.
Poom, who currently works as the Estonia national team goalkeeping coach, travelled with Hein as he toured three clubs for trials. “Karl Jakob Hein travelled early last winter to the three England clubs’ academies for trials,” said Poom. “The first one was Brighton, where I went.
“There was Arsenal, where I was also on hand, and the third one was Manchester United, where the head coach of the Nomme United was accompanied by Martin Klasen.
“Karl Jakob showed himself very well on the whole. He impressed and, in fact, everyone at those three clubs wanted him in their own ranks.
“Arsenal, too, went to see him with his father and a friend,” continued Poom. “And then they were able to convince him it was for the best that he chose Arsenal. Perhaps that I was once an Arsenal player played a small role, but I still did not push myself or put him at the top of any club.
“It’s a big decision and he did it with his family himself.”
Hein has made four appearances for the u18s this season, conceding eight goals with no cleansheets, but, lest we forget, he’s 16. Poom and the player seem to think it’s going well so far.
“He is very pleased,” said Poom. “I spoke to him only yesterday (8 December).
“He is pleased with how he has been there for almost half a year and has played a tournament in the Arsenal u18 team, has been on the u23 team bench and, even more so, and I think he’s also pleased with his development, that he will be able to train relatively regularly with the goalkeepers of the [first] team, and sometimes also with the players.
“This is definitely a very good outlet for him and the opportunity to evolve and get advice from goalkeepers like Petr Cech and Bernd Leno.”
Hein signed on a one-year scholarship deal until he turns 17 in April when he can sign professional terms.
He was also linked with Southampton, (then Bundesliga side) FC Ingolstadt, as well as Italian clubs Torino and Juventus.
At the time of the signing, Poom said, “It was, of course, difficult to choose, because this is an extraordinary opportunity for an Estonian boy. Arsenal offered him very good conditions for development.
“The small advantage with Arsenal is that I know the people of Arsenal and this academy. I can keep an eye on him and advise him if necessary.”