Watch: Zelalem drills basketball shot, is hugged by Henry, fans chant 'USA!'
Gedion Zelalem, Arsenal's 17-year-old prospect who is on the U.S. national team radar, is drawing plenty of spotlight ahead of the Gunners' friendly against Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. And while the thought of Zelalem taking a pass from Henry and scoring is somewhat of a generation-binding dream for Arsenal fans, the two got about as close as they ever will to making that happen on Thursday.
While at the Izod Center in New Jersey as part of the pre-match festivities, Zelalem and Arsenal players took turns shooting basketball jumpers, with mixed results. Zelalem, however, did just fine. After taking the ball from Henry, and with the Arsenal all-time leading scorer standing inches to his left, Zelalem swished a straightaway long-range shot before being hugged by Henry and drawing an ovation and chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" from the crowd on hand.
Zelalem is currently ineligible for the USA, though. Born in Germany to Ethiopian parents, Zelalem lived in America from when he was 9-15 and can obtain citizenship through his father, if the elder Zelalem becomes a U.S. citizen prior to Gedion turning 18 in January, according to SI's Grant Wahl. U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has admitted great interest in having him represent the USA, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed in an extensive, exclusive Q&A with SI.com Thursday that Zelalem is "in some ways the type of player the U.S. was missing in the World Cup." (Read the full Q&A with Wenger and Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis here.)
Arsenal and USA fans will surely be interested in seeing what Zelalem can do on the field in Saturday's friendly, but in the meantime, watch Zelalem's basketball skills below: