The Washington Post

Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem moves to London from Washington to begin professional pursuits

Gedion Zelalem, the Bethesda teenager recruited by English Premier League club Arsenal, has moved to London and will not play for Walter Johnson High School this fall, Wildcats Coach Mike Williams said.

Zelalem, who last year was a freshman midfielder on the Maryland Class 4A state runner-up squad, is scheduled to formally join Arsenal’s youth system when he turns 16 in January.

To meet FIFA requirements for underage players, Zelalem’s family has relocated to England with him and his father has found a job.

Zelalem is a German citizen of Ethio­pian descent and moved to the United States with his family in 2006. He has trained with both the U.S. under-15 national team and German youth program.

The USSF invited him to a recent under-17 camp, but Arsenal prefers he focus on the club for the time being.

Zelalem is not a U.S. citizen, which means he can’t represent the country in official matches. However, he is apparently eligible for citizenship through family ties and is pursuing a U.S. passport. Specific details weren’t available.

It’s unclear, though, whether he would prefer playing for the United States or Germany, or whether Germany rates him highly.

“He is obviously talented and we would love to have him,” USA under-17 coach Richie Williams said.

Mike Williams, the WJ coach, believes “we will see Gedion in Arsenal’s first team three years from now. He’s got a great future. I was happy to have him for one year.”

Additional information about Zelalem’s background can be found in my profile of him published last September.

Show Comments
Washington Post Subscriptions

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

A limited time offer for Apple Pay users.

Buy with
Cancel anytime

$9.99/month after the two month trial period. Sales tax may apply.
By subscribing you agree to our Terms of Service, Digital Products Terms of Sale & Privacy Policy.

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

Most Read
Read stories based on reporting for “Trump Revealed,” a broad, comprehensive biography of the life of the president-elect.


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing