He may have burst onto the scene on both the Premier League and international stage, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed that he came close to never making it as a professional due to his slight build.
The Arsenal winger, who was signed from Southampton in August 2011 for an initial £12million fee, has scored five goals in 30 domestic games and appeared seven times for England.
However, he has now disclosed that the South Coast club almost ended his career before it had even started.
Instead, Southampton made the decision to hold back the youngster for a season in the under-14 team until his body had matured sufficiently.
"Southampton were going to release me then," the 19-year-old told The Times.
"They said I was not big enough. It was just because I hadn't grown.
"They said I couldn't cope but they said that I was technically one of the best players, so instead they were going to keep me in the under-14s. I played there for one season.
"I played there for a season and it was really good for my confidence.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has made three starts this season, and scored in the Capital One Cup against Coventry City on Wednesday.