Zelalem on Arsenal’s game-day roster

(Arsenal FC photo) (Arsenal FC photo)

Gedion Zelalem was on Arsenal’s game-day roster for Saturday’s Premier League match at Fulham, an unfathomable leap for a 16-year-old midfielder with American ties who did not join the Gunners’ full-time set-up until seven months ago.

Although Zelalem did not enter the 3-1 victory at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, his mere presence on the bench caused a stir in English circles:

Daily Telegraph: “If you haven’t heard of Gideon Zelalem: he is a child. … Perhaps he’s not just a common-or-garden Wenger prodigy but an actual genius who’s going to come on and score a hat-trick.”

Daily Mail: “If Zelalem features for Arsenal before mid-December, he will become the club’s youngest ever player.”

Here Is the City: “While most 16-year-olds will simply be celebrating good GCSE results [academic testing] this weekend, by having a shandy bass and treating themselves to a pick ‘n’ mix at the cinema, Zelalem will instead sit on the bench for a Premier League game for the first time.”

Arsenal message boards:

“Zelalem must be chuffed. Excited for the lad.”

“Lol to those who thought Zelalem wouldn’t get much of a look in at the first team this season. He’ll get his fair share of games I reckon.”

Zelalem, a German citizen of Ethiopian descent who lived in Maryland for six years before relocating to London last fall, has featured with the under-21 squad and joined the first team for preseason competitions.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · August 23, 2013