VVV Venlo (Eerste Divisie)
on loan from
#8 | Midfielder
January 26, 1997 (Age: 20)
5' 11", 140 lbs (1.8 m, 64 kg)
Zelalem has traveled very much in his young career. Born in Berlin, Germany, the youngster trained with teams such as BFC Germania 1888 and Hertha Berlin before moving to Bethesda, Maryland where his played with MSC United, Bethesda SC and the Olney Rangers. He also played varsity soccer for a time at Walter Johnson High School.
It would be at the Dallas Cup that a scout with Arsenal would notice Zelalem and invite him to London to try out for a place at its famed academy. It turned out to be a success as the son of Ethiopian parents was offered a place.
In January 2014, Zelalem would make his senior debut for the Gunners in a substitute role in the team's 4-0 FA Cup win over Coventry City. His second appearance would again come in a substitute appearance in the team's 4-1 Champions League win over Turkish side Galatasaray.
In August 2015, Arsenal agreed to loan Zelalem to Scottish Championship side Glasgow Rangers.
Zelalem had earlier been eligible to play for two countries - Germany and Ethiopia. He had spent some time with the U.S. Under-15 side in 2012, but could not play a game as he was only a permanent resident of the country.
Before making the swith to the United States, Zelalem had played games for the German U-15, U-16 and U-17 sides.
In December 2014, it was reported that Zelalem had acquired his U.S. citizenship, making him available for selection to the U.S. Under-20 national team ahead of the 2015 U-20 World Cup. He would make his debut for the team in a friendly against Australia in May 2015.