By 90Min
October 26, 2017

Arsenal defender Sead Kolasinac has revealed which two superstars he idolised growing up, trying to practice techniques perfected by each of them, as well explaining exactly what it was that made him choose the Gunners over other interested clubs in the summer.

On his Premier League debut against Leicester back in August, Kolasinac pulled off a classy pirouette on the ball, a skill made famous by Zinedine Zidane. And it was the Frenchman and Real Madrid colleague Roberto Carlos that the boy who grew into 'The Tank' most admired.

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"I remember I used to try to take free kicks like the one Roberto Carlos scored against France. But what I trained more often was that Zinedine Zidane trick, which I practised a lot on the pitch," Kolasinac told Arsenal.com.

"When I look back at my childhood, Carlos and Zidane are the two that really stayed in my head. You don't have to say much about those two - everyone knows them and when I was a child they had a real influence on me," he added.

Image by Jamie Spencer

Born in Germany, Bosnian international Kolasinac's path to professional football wasn't a straightforward one. Having started out at home-town club Karlsruhe, he later spent brief periods in the youth setups Hoffenheim and Stuttgart - short spells he now reflects on as mistake.

It wasn't until he arrived at Schalke in his later teen years and encountered Norbert Elgert, a revered coach who has played an influential role in the development of Mesut Ozil, that Kolasinac had the belief that he could make it through to the professional ranks.

From Karlsruhe I went to Hoffenheim, where things just didn't work out for me. Then I went to Stuttgart and again things didn't go that well, but these things happen to young players," he said.

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"It was only when I met Norbert that I thought I had a chance to make it. He took me to one side and told me that if I pulled in the right direction, listened to him and did as instructed in the two years I had with him, I'd have the opportunity to break into the senior team.

"When I started working with him, I started to notice the progress - I was improving, tactically I was getting better and my game in general was getting better. At that point I thought that if I continued I'd have the chance to make it professionally."

Kolasinac credits Elgert with moulding him from a boy into a man and building his personality - "That's why I think Schalke have been so successful at generating young players for the first team. A large portion of that is down to Norbert Elgert."

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After five seasons in Schalke's first-team, Kolasinac became available as a free agent in the summer as a result of his expiring contract. He chose Arsenal almost as soon as he heard of the interest, having always had a soft spot for the Gunners' style of play under Arsene Wenger.

"There were offers from other clubs," he admitted. "But the whole package here just seemed right. I've followed Arsenal for a long time, even when I didn't know I'd end up here eventually. They always played such attractive football, with an onus on going forward.

"I always enjoyed watching Arsenal matches and when I heard that the club was interested in me, when I met Arsene Wenger, I knew straightaway that I wanted to come here. From there it all went pretty quickly. "

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