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Arsenal wonderkid 'lived over road' from training ground and asked for trial

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FORMER Premier League star Fabrice Muamba got his big break in football after bravely ASKING for a trial with Arsenal.

Ex-Gunners academy No2 Roy Massey revealed how Muamba, who lived across the road from Arsenal’s youth base as a kid, made a huge impression when he was just 14 years old.

Fabrice Muamba's Arsenal career was saved by a cheeky request

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Fabrice Muamba’s Arsenal career was saved by a cheeky requestCredit: Getty

And a cheeky request later on ended up saving Muamba’s Arsenal career when he had looked set to leave the club.

The 36-year-old former midfielder played twice for the Gunners before enjoying spells at Birmingham and Bolton.

But Muamba’s career was tragically cut short in 2012 when he suffered a cardiac arrest against Tottenham.

The former England U21 ace was forced to bow out of the beautiful game.

He moved into media before completing a degree in sports journalism.

And after gaining his coaching badges, Muamba has since worked with Liverpool. Rochdale, Bolton and Burnley.

But his beginnings with Arsenal have now taken centre stage, with Massey revealing all in his autobiography ‘A Life in Football and a Coach to the Stars’.

It’s said that aged just 14, Muamba approached Massey outside Arsenal’s youth base — opposite his own house — to ask for a trial at the top level.

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The sheer audacity impressed Massey, who wrote: “Fabrice lived over the road and he came in and asked for a trial at aged 14. He was big and we could not turn down someone who had the audacity to come in and ask for a trial at Arsenal.

“He was not great on the ball but we felt he could become a big, strong centre-half and we agreed to allow him to train at the academy.”

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Muamba's playing career was cut short in 2012 after suffering a cardiac arrest

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Muamba’s playing career was cut short in 2012 after suffering a cardiac arrestCredit: AP:Associated Press
He has since worked in media and as a coach

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He has since worked in media and as a coachCredit: Getty – Contributor

Unfortunately, Arsenal’s academy chief Liam Brady was not impressed and told Massey to let Muamba go.

But a cheeky request from the ace ended up saving his Arsenal career.

Massey continued: “After I did so (letting Muamba go), I informed him that as he lived in Walthamstow I would recommend him to his nearest professional club, Leyton Orient, my former team. As Fabrice did not have access to transport for training and the games this would also be a suitable place to play football.

“The following day I was in my room when a knock came on the door and Fabrice poked his head round to ask when I was going to contact Orient and set up a trial for him. Such enthusiasm and attitude are just what any young player needs.

“I asked him what he was doing the following Wednesday evening and when the answer was nothing, I told him that before I would recommend him to Orient, I would like him to play in one more Arsenal academy game.

“I was short of a centre-half for a match against Norwich’s under-14s. It was an end-of-season fixture at Highbury. We beat Norwich 5-0 and Fabrice had a good game, so much so that I invited him to come back for pre-season training. This meant we could have another look at him.”

This time round, Brady was hugely impressed and quickly urged Arsenal to sign Muamba.

Massey added: “Liam immediately told Steve Leonard to go to Fabrice’s house and get his parents to sign forms before he moved elsewhere.

“Ironically this proved not as easy as I anticipated. Fabrice’s dad was very doubtful about him becoming a footballer as he wanted him instead to become a doctor or a lawyer. Steve did eventually get him to sign the forms.”

Fabrice Muamba’s career stats

Those numbers in full:

  • Arsenal (2005-06): 2 games, 0 goals
  • Birmingham (2006-08): 79 games, 2 goals
  • Bolton (2008-12): 148 games, 4 goals
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