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Football Reporting


Ex-Arsenal reject working his way back to the top with Trent Alexander-Arnold tips

Jordan Gabriel is benefiting from the advice of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s former mentor as he plots a path to the Premier League.

Gabriel says getting shown the door by his boyhood club Arsenal aged 15 was “heartbreaking”.

Lots of his talented peers from the Gunners’ youth teams have disappeared from football altogether.

But Gabriel has grafted his way back via Southend to Nottingham Forest who started him in their first two games this season before loaning him to Blackpool.

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The right-back,22, is now impressing with the Seasiders who are sixth in the League One on an unbeaten 10-game run under Neil Critchley.

He took over a year ago at Bloomfield Road after leaving Liverpool where he worked previously coaching starlets including title-winning attacking right-back Arnold.

Ahead of Plymouth’s visit on Saturday, Gabriel said: “The manager will chat to us on a one-to-one basis and give feedback.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has come through the ranks at Liverpool to win the Champions League and Premier League

“He is brilliant and will tell you straight.

“We have had a few conversations about Trent and he knows that is the level I want to get to.

“It is a big step but I am willing to put the work in because it is my dream and goal.

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“I am not going to let anyone stop me from getting there.

“The manager has said if Trent can do it, I can do it.

“He said Trent has got to where he has because of hard work and dedication.

“He has said I need to put in that too and I believe and trust in him.

“He has helped me improve my crossing and pass selection which is crucial the higher you go.

“He has said my crossing is better than I believe.

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Blackpool hired Neil Critchley from Liverpool last year

“But as a full-back you are a defender first and if you can’t defend then you are a liability.

“He has helped me with my positioning too, knowing when to go forward and when to go back – game management.

“I love a tackle but the manager says you don’t always have to go to ground.

“Before I would rely on my pace to get me out of trouble but now I am using my head.”

Gabriel sat down in sunny Lytham with a well-earned fish and chips after a 3-1 win over Peterborough in midweek.

With a body fat of less than five %, the quick 6ft 1in defender can handle the odd treat.

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Jordan Gabriel is thriving on loan at League One Blackpool and the Nottingham Forest right-back has big ambitions

He did well on loan at League Two Scunthorpe last season and is proving he can cope with the step up.

Gabriel believes his path will still take him to the top despite the agony of leaving Arsenal.

He reflected: “I remember sitting in an office with Liam Brady and they couldn’t guarantee me becoming a scholar and felt it was best for me to leave.

“Being at Arsenal from the age of eight and supporting them with my whole family who love them, it was heartbreaking.

“I look at the team photos of U9s and U10s at Arsenal and it was an amazing team.

“A lot of people have dropped out which is upsetting because I have seen them grow as a person and a player.

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“But I have always wanted to be out there fighting to get the top one way or another.

“I felt going down a few leagues and being a big fish in a small pond would help.

“I have dropped down to then come back up.”

Gabriel’s single-mindedness saw him opt for Championship Forest in 2015 from Southend ahead of Chelsea.

He insisted: “Chelsea is a massive club , great for your CV and I could have gone for the money but I thought in the long-term Forest was the better option.

“I look at academy graduates at Forest like Joe Worrall and Ryan Yates and think I can make that step up like them because I’m learning all the time here at Blackpool.”

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