On Tuesday, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati tweeted that Zelalem, who is also eligible to play for Germany and Ethiopia, had asked the federation to begin the paperwork to submit to FIFA so he can play for the USA.
Born in Berlin, Zelalem played in Hertha Berlin’s youth program before moving to Maryland at age 9 with his father and sister. He starred on Coach Matt Pilkington’s Olney Rangers and at age 16 joined Arsenal.
In this "Introducing Gedion Zelalem" video produced by Arsenal, he reveals, among other things, his guilty pleasure, the song that gets him "pumped," the first thing he does when he gets home from practice, his favorite TV show, his soccer role model …
Zelalem has played mainly for Arsenal’s youth academy teams and its U-21 team. In September, he scored this goal for Arsenal's U-19 team in a UEFA Youth League match against Galatasaray:
He made his first team debut at age 16 in a FA Cup game against Coventry on Jan. 24, coming on in the 71st minute of the 4-1 win. The debut made club history as he was the first player to appear for the Gunners who was born after Coach Arsene Wenger took charge in September 1996.
He has yet to play in an English Premier League game, but made his Champions League debut Sept. 12 when he came on at halftime of a 4-1 win over Galatasaray on Sept. 12.
Here’s a 6-minute compilation Zelalem in action for Arsenal’s youth teams.