Wenger ‘personally scouted’ Gunners icon as 15-year-old before phoning his home

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger personally scouted Jeremie Aliadiere when the 15-year-old super talent took part in a tournament on British shores.

Aliadiere was still at the elite French football academy of Clairefontaine – and he admitted 'every club in Europe' was after him. But Wenger was handed a golden opportunity to secure his signature when France U15s travelled to Scotland for a tournament.

There – after hearing rumours of the 15-year-old super talent – Wenger travelled across the border to get a look for himself. "I didn't know Arsene himself was there, though, until around a week or so later… when he called my house and spoke to my dad directly.

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"So the house phone rings and my dad answers, and when I saw his reaction when he started speaking, I just thought 'wow, who is that," Aliadiere admitted to Ladbrokes at the launch of their 5-A-Side bet on Crystal Palace v Arsenal.

"Arsene got our home number from somewhere and decided to speak with my dad directly – that phone call lasted for around an hour. He put the phone down and was just completely gobsmacked. He told me it was Arsene calling to get me to sign for Arsenal.

"And that was it; my mind was made up on Arsenal."

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Despite his supreme talents, Aliadiere ultimately failed to live up to his lofty expectations in north London, and in 2007 he was sold to Middlesbrough after finding the net once.

The Frenchman's best days came at Lorient – where he spent two different spells later on in his career.


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