Nelson followed in the footsteps of fellow South London native and close friend Jadon Sancho by choosing to continue his footballing development in the Bundesliga. The 19-year-old left his boyhood club Arsenal last summer to spend a year out on loan at TSG Hoffenheim, and it’s safe to say that both parties have been happy with how his stay in Germany has panned out. The youngster has amassed considerable experience of playing at the highest level, making 18 Bundesliga appearances as well as five in the UEFA Champions League, while Julian Nagelsmann's side have undoubtedly been bolstered by Nelson's presence in the squad, with the young Englishman netting six goals for TSG and winning the Bundesliga rookie of the month award for October.
Reiss Nelson recently met with journalists from several renowned British newspapers at TSG’s training complex in Zuzenhausen to discuss his upbringing, his adjustment to life in Germany, his progress at TSG and his hopes and aspirations for his return to Arsenal.
The youngster grew up on the notorious streets of the Aylesbury estate in South London, and he talked at length to THE DAILY MAIL about this experience: ''Where I come from, the estates are not so nice. It is a bit gritty. On my estate, there are dangerous things happening. But I had my ball with me and that made me feel safe. I just went out to play. Street football...that’s where I developed my strength, mentality and ruthlessness. I have an elder brother who adores me and pushed me on. He just said 'Go out and play.' My family made big sacrifices but little gestures mean a lot. My sister took me to training when she was pregnant. My brother-in-law skipped work to get me to training. Our family gets us through. We’d get the train, a bus and sometimes even walk to training. I’m just so happy it’s working out.''
Given his upbringing on the concrete streets of London, it’s no surprise that the move to rural Germany came as something of a culture shock to the young Londoner. He described his first impressions to THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: ''It is a long drive coming up to the training ground. You are surrounded by all these trees. I was just thinking, 'where am I going?!' As you look from the outside, it seems very small. But it opens up into a beautiful modern place, and you are kind of surprised. Then I got into the changing room. All the guys are speaking German and I’m thinking 'what are they talking about?' In the first training session it was a bit difficult because not very much was explained in English. I had to learn very quickly and adapt to the German language. After a few training sessions, being on my toes, I could get along.'' The 19-year-old went on to add: ''When I am here I am kind of lost in a different environment, a different area. But I have a lot of friends, German friends as well, who have kept me healthy,'' also mentioning that he has been nicknamed ''little brother'' by Germany defender Nico Schulz.
The best-selling tabloid newspaper THE SUN was full of praise for TSG Hoffenheim, describing the Sinsheim club as: ''The envy of Premier League and European heavyweights when it comes to revolutionary tech.''
With his loan spell drawing to a close, attention will now turn toward Nelson’s aspirations for the future. Nelson grew up supporting Arsenal, and he spoke to GOAL.COM about his desire to become a legend for his boyhood club. The online publication was highly positive in its assessment of the teenager's spell in Germany, as well as his future prospects at Arsenal: ''His total game contribution still has major room for improvement but there can be no argument that his goals and creativity are hugely important to Julian Nagelsmann's side. The Gunners are pleased with Nelson’s progress and there is a genuine belief that he can go on to become a first-team regular next season. Head of football Raul Sanllehi persuaded Nelson to sign a contract extension before he left on loan this summer and it’s a decision which is proving to be an absolute masterstroke.''
Upon reading the various reports written about the 19-year-old talent, one thing is obvious: Nelson is set for big things in the world of football, and whatever he goes on to achieve, it’s clear that his time at TSG will have left a big mark on him.