Zelalem playing for Arsenal U21s in 2013
|Full name||Gedion Zelalem|
|Date of birth||26 January 1997|
|Place of birth||Berlin, Germany|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|2009–2011||Bethesda Soccer Club|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:42, 24 January 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Zelalem started playing football at the age of five and grew up in Germany playing for the club BFC Germania 1888. After this he changed to Bundesliga side Hertha BSC's academy. He moved to the United States in 2006. Zelalem continued his development playing for MSC United and Bethesda Soccer Club, before joining the club team Olney Rangers and the varsity team at Walter Johnson High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. Arsenal scout Daniel Karbassiyoon discovered Zelalem playing for Olney Rangers during a Dallas Cup match. After contacting his coaches, Zelalem was flown to London for summer training with the Arsenal youth academy; following the end of this camp, he was offered a permanent place in the Academy.
Zelalem started out playing in Arsenal's under-16s squad, before graduating into the under-21s in April 2013. His debut for the under-21 side came against Liverpool U21 that month, but was unable to prevent Arsenal slipping to a 3–2 defeat at Anfield; however, he drew praise for his performance. He made his second appearance for the side less than a week later in a 3–2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers U21, once again drawing praise for his performance.
In July 2013, Zelalem was included in Arsenal's 24-man squad for their Asian tour. Although regarded as a surprise inclusion, strong performances against an Indonesia Dream Team, the Vietnam national team and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus led to him being touted as a future star, and being compared favourably to Cesc Fàbregas.
Following these strong performances, Zelalem stated that he hoped to make a few appearances during the 2013–14 season. He remained in the team for the Emirates Cup match against Galatasaray on 4 August, but was unable to keep Arsenal from sliding to a 2–1 defeat. Zelalem was selected on the bench in Arsenal's second Premier League game of the season, a 3–1 victory over Fulham on 24 August, but did not make an appearance. However, on 10 September, Zelalem announced on Twitter that he had sustained an injury that would keep him out of action for up to two months. Although he announced his return to training in late October, Arsène Wenger confirmed that he would not be fit enough for the League Cup match against Chelsea on 29 October, contrary to rumour. He returned to action for Arsenal's youth side a week later in a UEFA Youth League fixture against Borussia Dortmund on 6 November, playing the entire match in a 2–2 draw.
On 24 January 2014, the German made his debut with Arsenal's senior squad, coming on as a substitute for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 71st minute of their 4–0 home FA Cup victory against Coventry City.
On 18 March 2014, Zelalem signed a new contract extension with Arsenal.
- As of match played 24 January 2014.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
Zelalem initially trained with the under-15 side of the United States, but was unable to play in matches due to only being classified as a permanent resident, and not a citizen. Instead, he played for Germany's under-15 and under-16 sides, making two appearances for the under-15s and eight appearances for the under-16s.
On the 12 November 2013, Zelalem represented Germany at under-17 level in a friendly versus Spain. In March 2014, he withdrew from the Germany U17 national team for the Group 5 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship elite round fixtures.
In 2006, Germany-born Zelalem emigrated to the United States with his father following his mother's death in 2005. In May 2014, it was reported that Zelalem's father, Zelalem Wolydes held U.S. permanent residency and intended to apply for U.S.citizenship. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Gedion would also acquire U.S. citizenship and thus qualify for U.S. national soccer team eligibility. He would also be able to retain his Germany passport which allows him to live and work in the European Union without restrictions.
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