By Ayisha Khan
Ray Parlour entertained a packed lounge of football fans at Wingate and Finchley FC as he reminisced about his days in Arsenal’s golden boy wonder team of the last decades.
The former Arsenal midfielder, nicknamed the ‘The Romford Pelé’, trailed through a succession of dressing room tales and wind-ups from his time at the club from 1988 to 2004, in which he won the League Cup, four FA Cups, three Premier League Championships and ten England caps, playing alongside Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Tony Adams, Ian Wright and Patrick Vieira.
Perhaps the most memorable figures were his maverick team-mates Martin Keown and Tony Adams. Parlour joked about how he had once duped Keown into thinking that a delivery man was a £14 million signing from Bayern Munich and watched Adams do the FA Cup live draw in a drunken state fresh from the pub.
He also spoke about his time under managers Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Arsène Wenger. Parlour begrudged Hoddle leaving him off the 1998 England squad after he had apparently offended his faith healer Eileen Drewery, and described Keegan’s racing nights, when the manager had fooled the squad into betting £330,000 on a non-live horse race. But the most comedic portrayal was that of Wenger, whom he nicknamed ‘Inspector Clouseau’ after he had once burnt himself in the shower and ripped his underpants, although went on to praise the manager’s player signings.
Parlour, now a football pundit on BBC Talksport, also took questions from the audience. He said, “[I] love Arsenal. They’re a great club, seriously. I’ve been there for many, many years – [I’ve] loved every minute. I was gutted when I left, I really was.”
An influential player in Arsenal history, Parlour’s 32 goals contributed to a club whose achievements to date stand at 3 double wins and an uncontested record of being the only English side to have completed an unbeaten season. Parlour’s own personal favourite was scoring in the 2002 FA Cup final when Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-0.