I must admit I have a soft spot for Charlie Nicholas. Maybe because I sat next to him once when he was out of favour at Arsenal and he just took a regular seat in the stand. He was charming.
Maybe because he has resolutely supported Arsene Wenger and Arsenal when all the other ex-Arsenal players who turn up on TV and radio rant against their old club.
I don’t know. I just like the guy.
He was born on 30 December 1961 in Glasgow. He started his career played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals including one in which (as I recall, and as this site so often shows, my recollection is generally wrong) he ran past the defence to receive a long pass, lobbed it up with his left and then thumped it in with his right without it once touching the ground.
When Terry Neill wrote his autobiography (and again working from memory) he made the signing of Charlie the first chapter of his book. I remember that because it was on 22 June 1983 – my birthday (the 22 June, not the 1983). He cost £800,000 and was said to be the highest paid player in the country. In December 1983 Terry Neill was sacked.
He fared far less well in London as a striker than he did in Glasgow, although he got both goals when we beat Liverpool in the 1987 League Cup Final (Liverpool never lose when Rush scores – but they did that day, I am sure that memory is right).
Amazingly the man he was dropped in favour of, early in the 1987/8 season was … Perry Groves. But then Perry ran around a lot.
Charlie scored 54 goals in 184 games – nothing like the return that was anticipated and after he got his second drink driving charge (shades of Ray Wilkins just recently) his cards were on the table. We sold him to Aberdeen in January 1988 for half the price we paid.
Maybe it was the sea air, maybe the easier Scottish league, but he got some form back and scored 30 goals in 78 for Aberdeen before doing the return to Celtic, but eventually by 1992/3 his time was up with 114 games and 37 goals, and he went to Clyde. After one season he retired to work for Sky.
Although he has been most loyal to Arsenal he has not had so many good words to say about Celtic over the years – which is an interesting slant, although not one on which I have that much information.
In all he played 481 senior games and scored 184 goals.
And Charlie, some of us in London do still have fond memories. Keep it up on Sky.
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