7 June: The Arsenal man who left football behind

David Bentley, once of Arsenal, who had earlier in his career pushed for a transfer away from Arsenal, in order to get the games he felt he deserved, was released by Tottenham on this day in 2013, and heard of no more in football.

Bentley came to Arsenal aged 13.  He played as a centre forward, a number 10, central midfield and wide midfield.  He was an under 21 international too.  He played his first game in January 2003, as a sub in the FA Cup but after that season he went on loan to Norwich who were relegated on the last day of his season there.

In May 2004 he played for Arsenal in the Premiership. It was his one start in the league.

By the summer of 2005 he had put in a transfer request, as he admitted he was fighting to overcome a serious gambling habit.  But there were no takers at his salary, and with his outspoken approach to football, so he went to Blackburn in January 2006, and immediately scored a hat trick for them.  It looked like his problems were over.

On 27 February 2007 he signed a new contract which made Mark Hughes (then Blackburn manager) say, Bentley was “a great talent with a big future”.

But it was never going to be enough for Bentley to play in a Lancashire town for a club with limited support (much of the time the club played with the upper tier of one stand shut, because of the smallness of the crowds), and in the summer of 2008 Bentley started talking about the need to join a bigger club.  He went instead to Tottenham.

The transfer took place on 31 July 2008 Tottenham paying £15m plus £2m performance fees.  Of this £7m went back to Arsenal as part of the deal that Blackburn had signed with Arsenal when they bought him.

He was utterly full of himself when he scored what we must all agree was a truly remarkable goal in the 4-4 draw between Arsenal and Tottenham on 29 October 2008  but that was the high point.  By June 2009 he was talking again to other clubs.  Greener grass, anything is better… it seems to be always the same.  By 2011 Tottenham were trying to recoup some of their money by loaning him out again.

On September 2012 he went on loan for FC Rostov in Russia, but an injury there, as with injuries in earlier games elsewhere, cut his time short and attempts by other clubs to sign him (for example QPR) failed amidst talk of seriously high wage demands.

On 15 February 2013 he went back to Blackburn on loan and played in the FA Cup fifth round at Arsenal.  On 7 June 2013 he was released by Tottenham.

Later he set up his own restaurant.  He is since said to have invested in a restaurant with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and other businesses in Spain and England and done a job-swap TV show.   In 2015, as part of a job-swap documentary for Irish television, Bentley trained for and played in a Gaelic football match for Crossmaglen Rangers; in return, Aaron Kernan was to train with Sunderland.

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

100 Years: 100 Years in the First Division

Arsenal today: Untold Arsenal 

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