An Arsenal Academy product, Reiss Nelson made his first-team debut under Arsene Wenger in 2017/18, which turned out to have been the Frenchman’s last season in charge. He made 16 appearances that term – quite a decent number for a player only 18 years old at the time, though half of them came in the Europa League.
Following the arrival of Unai Emery to the dugout last summer, Nelson was sent to rack up some experience to Hoffenheim and scored on his debut against Fortuna Dusseldorf. To this day, he has made 24 appearances for the Bundesliga side in all competitions and scored six times.
Talking to The Telegraph’s Sam Dean in an interview, the young forward spoke about his struggles to adapt to new surroundings and the German language in the dressing room.
“All the guys are speaking German and I’m thinking ‘what are they talking about?’ In the first training session it was a bit difficult because not very much was explained in English. I had to learn very quickly and adapt to the German language. After a few training sessions, being on my toes, I could get along”, he said.
Apart from several more stories of adaptation to the new coach, teammates and the team’s style of play, Nelson also spoke about the importance of one particular piece of advice he once received from one the coaches he’s worked with – Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. The former striker constantly stressed the importance of keeping both feet firmly on the ground for young players, not getting carried away and forgetting the basics of being a professional football player.
Even though injuries have been causing him problems in recent months, Nelson has made huge progress as a player in Germany under highly rated coach Julian Nagelsmann, known for paying attention to detail in a way similar to Emery, and the Gunners are now hoping that his improvement will be notable in the Premier League next season.
“If I wasn’t aiming to break into the Arsenal first team, that wouldn’t be the correct mindset,” Nelson says.
“I am just at the beginning. I want to get to the very top.”