Startlet Fonte making his mark at Arsenal PDF Print E-mail

Sixteen-year-old Rui Fonte living a dream in London

Rui Fonte is a name to remember. At just 16 years of age Fonte has signed a three-year contract at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger has been so impressed with the striker he has already called up the former Sporting youth to train with the senior squad.

While still in his mid-teens, Rui Fonte took the courageous decision to leave his home, family and friends behind him to seek fame and fortune in a foreign country.

 “This is what I want. Book the tickets because I’m ready!" Fonte told his parents upon being offered the chance to play for one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Sensational start

Stepping onto the pitch for the Gunners’ under-18 team, the forward did not ask for a second opportunity to impress. Two goals and four assists in his first two matches convinced Wenger to select Fonte for the reserves against Southampton on Tuesday.

Fifteen minutes on the pitch, alongside names such as Senderos and Almunia, left the youngster in dreamland. But things got even better the next day, as Fonte explains.

“They called me up to train with the seniors. It was a unique experience, words cannot describe it. I was training with the stars. Wenger told me to stay calm and to do my best.”

His work pleased the legendary French manager, and Fonte was told to train again with the first-team players the following day.

An incredible week in the life of the starlet was only prevented from being perfect by the absence of his boyhood hero, Henry, away on international duty with France.

Idol Henry

“That was the only thing lacking. He has been my idol since I was a nipper and just being able to train with him would leave me speechless. To play alongside him would be perfect!”

Next Tuesday the reserves play again, possibly featuring the Portuguese youngster with a glittering future before him.

Now you know why Rui Fonte is a name to remember.

[article abridged and translated from this Friday’s A Bola; original author, Pedro Mendonça] 6 October, 2006

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