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The very curious signing and first appearance of Patrick Vieira

Today is Patrick Vieira’s birthday.   Here’s part of what Wiki says about him…

Regarded by pundits as one of the best players ever in his position, Vieira was a complete, powerful, tenacious and aggressive footballer, with outstanding physical, athletic and technical attributes, who was also known for his grace on the pitch when in possession of the ball.

What is fascinating is that he only played two games the previous season with Milan. There was a story about him going to Ajax,  but it was reported that they would not meet his personal terms.  Then Bruce Rioch was sacked and the next thing we knew Vieira, totally unknown in England, had signed for managerless Arsenal.

He cost £3.5 million, surely the greatest bargain Arsenal ever had.

At the time we still didn’t know who was pulling the strings,  although Patrick later said, “I am delighted to be joining Arsenal at the same time as Mr Wenger becomes their coach. Being able to speak French to him will make life a lot easier for me.”  That, at least made sense.

He made his debut as a sub while Mr Wenger was still in Japan, with (so we are told) Mr Wenger directing the coaching via a video link).  Patrick came on and could immediately be seen to be telling the rest of the defence where to move to, to accommodate him.  And after that…. well, you know…

Here are the anniversaries

23 June 1914: The RAF was established.

23 June 1953: Alf Haynes died.  He played 29 games as a centre half under Herbert Chapman.  Later he ran a newsagents in Oxford and wrote a sports column for the local newspaper and kept his connections with Arsenal under Tom Whittaker, acting as a scout.

23 June 1971: Ex Arsenal man Jimmy Bloomfield became manager of Leicester.  After that he went to Orient, and led them to an FA Cup semi-final and later managed Luton, before his tragically early death from cancer.

23 June 1976: Patrick Vieira born in Dakar, Senegal.  Qualifying for French citizenship he played for Cannes, and made two appearances for Milan before they unexpectedly released him, and Mr Wenger bought him, while he was still managing in Japan.  On 11 June 2018, Vieira was appointed as the manager of OGC Nice

23 June 1976: Terry Neill resigned as Tottenham manager.  He had lasted 2 years.  At the time such an early departure at Tottenham was unusual, but since then only four of the club’s 25 subsequent managers have lasted longer.  See also here

23 June 1953: Death of Alf Haynes.  After ending his playing career he had become a scout and had among other things recommended Cliff Holton to Arsenal.

23 June 1955: David Price born in Surrey.  He joined Arsenal in 1970 and made his first team début aged 17 in an end-of-season game against Leeds.  His career ended aged 28 because of an injury after which he became a taxi driver.

23 June 2016: After rumours that Arsenal had tried to sign Vardy from Leicester the club and player admitted that he already had signed a new contract.

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