Part III: Arsenal and Switzerland’s ‘Golden Generation’ – Elton Monteiro

Part III: Arsenal and Switzerland’s ‘Golden Generation’ – Elton Monteiro

The final article focusing on the increasing Swiss influence on the Arsenal Academy takes a look at Elton Monteiro, the youngest of the trio of centre backs from Switzerland.

Elton Monteiro Almada

Date of Birth: 22/02/1994
Height: 192cm (6’4)
Former Club: FC Sion
Position: Centre Back

Able to dominate games physically, Young Guns describe Elton Monteiro as a “giant and imposing defender who has a great turn of pace and is solid in the air”.

And football certainly runs in the family for Monteiro, his cousin Gelson Fernandes having already played in the Premier League for Manchester City, currently plying his trade at Chievo in Italy. Like Fernandes, Monteiro has roots in Cape Verde that he is fiercely proud of and says he wants to apply for citizenship “one day” but also “dreams” of playing for Switzerland as his cousin does. But for now the teenager is focused on forging a club career for himself.

A man-mountain of a 16 year old, it’s very easy to see how he attracted the eye of visiting scouts at FC Sion when his side took part in an Under 15 tournament in 2009. Offers for the then 15 year old came thick and fast, and he soon grabbed at the chance for a trial at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground but he was left disappointed, saying that “frankly, I didn’t feel at ease”.

Arsenal had made their interest known at this stage and so he came to England again, this time leaving with a far more positive impression.

“I went to visit the facilities. I went back several times, I even played a friendly match. I felt that I was wanted there more than I was in Manchester”, he recalls.

While in London he had the opportunity to speak with Phillippe Senderos and Johan Djourou, who encouraged the youngster to move to the Gunners.

“They advised me to accept the offer and assured me that everything was available [at Arsenal] to progress in the best conditions.

I also had interest from other countries, but it is England that tempted me. Leaving Sion so young wasn’t my aim. It’s just an opportunity that presented itself. I feel that with the infrastructure available to Arsenal and the higher level of play, the conditions are here to progress faster than in Switzerland.”

He was officially made an Arsenal player in late February when he turned 16, moving into digs with Martin Angha just as the likes of Cesc Fabregas have done before him.

And the starlet certainly now looks to be taking full advantage of his move. After a quiet first six months with the club, Monteiro is beginning to assert himself for the Under 18s, performing admirably despite a poor start to the season by Steve Bould’s side.

“I think Elton Monteiro at the back looks a very good young prospect I have to say”, the Academy coach said. “For me he was probably our best player again today [against Sunderland] and he was probably our best player last week as well.”

High praise indeed from an Arsenal legend who knows all about becoming a successful centre back. And under the watchful eye of Bould there’s every chance that Elton Monteiro may just find himself achieving his own dream of playing in the Premier League in the future.

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