Ahead of facing his former club at the Emirates this Sunday, Arsenal’s Calum Chambers has revealed how he kept his move to north London secret – and how an old friend reacted.
Chambers joined Southampton’s academy at seven years of age, and made his first-team debut at just 17-years-old. Over the next two seasons the right-back would prove to be strong competition for Nathaniel Clyne, as he seemingly prepared for a long-term future with the Saints.
But in the midst of the 2014 summer exodus, Arsene Wenger saw an opportunity and managed to turn Chambers’ head. The Southampton fan base originally laughed at such rumours, but in what felt like the space of a night, the transfer had been signed, sealed and agreed.
“It was funny because nobody knew about me moving to Arsenal,” Chambers told www.arsenal.com. “We literally didn’t tell anyone, not even my flatmate (Harrison Reed) at Southampton knew.
“I’ve turned up here, all dressed up in my shirt and my jeans, stood outside the office at the training ground and Chambo walks around the corner. He had to double-take! It was brilliant because he just couldn’t believe it.
“Then obviously I’ve had to call up my flatmate and say, ‘Can you give my boots to the kitman? I need my boots’. Then I had to go back, I took my Sky box with me and all that. It was quite a surprise to everyone.”
Champions League football, training with world-class players and working under Arsene Wenger; these are just a few of the benefits that Chambers would have seen with such a move. But another was having the opportunity to play alongside an old friend, and a fellow academy graduate.
“My relationship with Chambo is quite funny. He broke through into the first team and obviously I was a couple of years younger than him, so we sort of looked up to him. Our age group thought, ‘He can do it, so one of us could do it’.
“In my first training session I trained with him and then we started getting the train in together. Me and Harrison Reed, who lived at my house, used to get the train in from Petersfield to Southampton, and he and Lloyd Isgrove would get on the train halfway. We’d get train journeys in every day together but he was always the first-team player at the time so we had massive respect for him.
“I remember the first day seeing him [at Arsenal] where I turned up and he didn’t have a clue. I stood in the corridor and he just saw me and was so surprised, it was brilliant. I can remember his face and it was so funny. It’s been quite interesting how our paths have crossed throughout our careers.”
Credit to www.arsenal.com for the quotes that have been referenced above