Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has paid tribute to Southampton, the club he left this summer to pursue his Premier League dream.
The 18-year-old, who scored his first goal for his new team in Tuesday’s League Cup victory over Shrewsbury, had been a member of the Saints’ academy since he was seven before joining the Gunners in a deal potentially worth £15 million.
Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, Oxlade-Chamberlain said of his boyhood club: “I owe them massively - I’d been at Southampton since I was seven.
“They put so much hard work into me and the fans down there welcomed me into the first team so warmly.
“I couldn’t have asked for more, so I’ve got a lot of time for them and I hope to be able to play there again one day and show my appreciation. I’ll always have a place in my heart for them.”
And the young winger could well be facing his old side sooner rather than later, with the Saints currently top of the Championship having won promotion from League One just last season.
Oxlade-Chamberlain believes Nigel Adkins’ side are well set to mount an assault on promotion.
“One major factor down there is that it’s such a great group of lads - one of the hardest things about leaving was the boys,” he added.
“Whoever comes in is welcomed straightaway, much like here at Arsenal.
“Everyone down there has been going for the same thing, and they’ve had that continuity - they haven’t had many players leaving or coming in, it’s still the tight group that was promoted last season, and I think the lift promotion gave them was massive.
“Things are looking good down at Southampton.”
The England under-21 starlet scored nine goals in 36 league games last season, his only professional campaign at St Mary’s, and has made two appearances in all competitions for Arsene Wenger since his transfer.