Emile Smith Rowe “reaping rewards” of hard work after stunning Arsenal emergence


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Steve Cooper says Emile Smith Rowe’s rise to the top is proof that hard work pays off.

The Nottingham Forest manager coached the Gunners youngster when he was in charge of England Under-17s who won the World Cup in 2017.

Smith Rowe has gone on to become a regular at the Emirates, scoring eight goals in 18 Premier League appearances this season.

Cooper could do ­without seeing too much of the 21-year-old on Sunday as Forest plot to turf ­ Arsenal out of the FA Cup at the City Ground.

But he has nothing but praise for the ­midfielder who has been christened the Croydon De Bruyne.

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Emile Smith Rowe has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season
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Cooper said: “Emile was one of a group of highly talented boys. When you work with an England team of that age, you don’t get that far if you aren’t.

“They were at an age where you hoped they would go on and do things.

“To get as far as he has is a real testament to the work he has done in his academy. And Emile is now one of those who is starting to have a really exciting career.

“But we all know that talent is not the only part of getting to the top, which is the Premier League. To stay there you need a lot of other things as well.

“It’s great to see so many doing well – but Emile particularly has been excellent. It’s pleased me ­because I cannot think of a player in that England team who worked harder than him in terms of his ­training and preparation.

“I’m not saying others didn’t work hard but he had an amazing ­approach and he’s reaping the ­rewards of that now.”

Cooper has transformed Forest’s fortunes since taking over from Chris Hughton, who never recovered from a poor start to the campaign.

One of his own standout performers has been Brennan Johnson, 20, who is attracting plenty of attention during his breakthrough season.

He has already been called into the senior Wales squad. And Cooper has issued the youngster with a ­challenge – starting on Sunday.

He said: “I’ve just had a good ­conversation with him about some technical improvements and he’s taken that on board. I’m sure he’ll want to look back and know he’s had a good season not just a good half-season.”

Steve Cooper led England’s U17 team to World Cup victory in 2017
Getty Images)

Forest have ramped up their promotion bid by taking experienced centre-half Steve Cook from Bournemouth.

Cooper added: “Every player should be thinking that Arsenal is a good yardstick. They are a tougher challenge than the one we face week in, week out.

“I want an ambitious culture for every player to think that they can impose themselves on the game.

“I want them on that page. If they’re not, they’re not going to be for me. We are a big football club as well.

“We need players to back ­themselves and look at challenges with confidence, rather than fear.”

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