Arsene Wenger once described Crawley Town's new signing as 'too good not to make it'

Mark Randall in action for Chesterfield
Mark Randall in action for Chesterfield

Mark Randall signed for Crawley Town on a two-year contract from Newport County today (Friday).

And the 27-year-old midfielder comes with an interesting story having played for Arsenal in the Champions League and Premier League.

He was once described by Arsène Wenger as among the "next generation" for Arsenal before leaving the Gunners in 2011. And in 2013 he signed for third-tier Italian Club Ascoli.

But an interview on The Guardian website in 2014 revealed he terminated his contract with Ascoli after not being paid for three months after they were declared bankrupt.

He returned to England hoping to find a new club and a wage. He told The Guardian: "I stuck it out for as long as I could but there comes a point where you have to put your foot down," says the 24-year-old. "I've got bills to pay. You never think of that when you're a kid growing up playing for Arsenal."

Randall made his Champions League debut against Porto for the Gunners in December 2008 and he also played Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial. He made two full appearances for Arsene Wenger's side. During his time at Arsenal, he made loan moves to Burnely, MK Dons and Rotherham United before joining Chesterfield permanently.

In The Guardian's interview, Randall talks about the effect Wenger had on him. He said: "Wenger used to come over to the youth-team pitches and watch us all the time. Pat Rice [the former assistant] would come over and often talk to Liam Brady", Arsenal's head of youth development, who coincidently had a spell at Ascoli in the 1980s.

"They would want to see for themselves what was going on, what your attitude was. I can honestly say I've never seen another first-team manager show the same interest in youth players, at all the clubs I've been at since."

And the article claimed as recently as 2010, Wenger described Randall as having "so much quality that I refuse to think he will not make it". Having not made it at Arsenal, does he feel he has wasted his talent? "No, playing abroad has given me a fresh start. I learned so much tactically in Italy, especially defensively, and I'm a better player now. Leaving England was part of maturing. If I was a young player at a top team again, that's what I'd do."

You can read Randall's full interview with The Guardian here.