'I didn't want to be at Arsenal because of the atmosphere' - Lawrence-Gabriel claims he was 'picked on' at Emirates Stadium

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Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel has said that he "didn't want to be at Arsenal because of the atmosphere" while claiming he was "picked on" during his time at Emirates Stadium.

Lawrence-Gabriel began his career in Arsenal's academy set-up as a 14-year-old in 2013, and played alongside the likes of Joe Willock, Tolaji Bola, Marcus McGuane, Charlie Gilmour, Josh Dasilva and Nathan Tella before being released the following year.

The right-back, who is currently on loan at Blackpool from Nottingham Forest, says a combination of a lack of support from coaches and a toxic environment in the dressing room led to his eventual departure.

What's been said?

Lawrence-Gabriel told The Mirror of his ill-fated spell with the Gunners: “We were all Arsenal fans in my family. My dream had always been to play for Arsenal and to play at the Emirates, which I eventually did in the U14s.

“The ability our team had was frightening. When you went away for tournaments you went with your year group. I remember in 2006-2007 we went to Dirinon and won the tournament in France.

“But talent only gets you so far. If you have staff who want to push players through, that helps. Not everyone had that. Coaches can have their favourites they are going to push, whether they have a bad attitude or not.

“So it is not always a nice atmosphere to be in. A lot of the time I didn't want to be there at Arsenal because of the atmosphere. Sometimes I didn't really want to go to training because you'd get picked on.

"The staff wouldn't really do anything about it. There was more chance of people being rewarded than punished. Coming through at a young age, you get a lot of knocks. Some people don't get up from that and they don't want to go through that.

“They put it aside and drop out of football because they lose belief."

What was Lawrence-Gabriel told upon his exit?

Lawrence-Gabriel went on to recall the exact moment he was told his Arsenal dream had come to an end, with club legend and academy director at the time Liam Brady the one who broke the bad news.

“I remember being released like yesterday," the 22-year-old added. "I went in with my dad and had the conversation when Liam Brady said: 'there is potential there and we love having you but I am not quite sure we can see you getting a contract later on'.

“That is when my dad said: 'It is probably best that we split paths'. From that, I literally left the office, got in the car and didn't look back. It was massively heart-breaking.

“You felt shock and hurt. But as soon as I went from there I felt I would show them what I am capable of.”

Lawrence-Gabriel chasing promotion with Blackpool

Lawrence-Gabriel has featured in 29 League One games on loan at Blackpool, helping them reach the play-off final against Lincoln City.

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The Englishman is hopeful that he can boost his career prospects by helping the club return to the Championship before he heads back to Forest.

“Promotion would be massive for my CV and massive for Blackpool,” he said. “I have been to Wembley before on a tour of the stadium but the play-offs will be better.”

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