WTTGT Writer: Bryan Waters – Follow me
The life of a football player is often considered to be one of the shortest working professions, so what happens when the beautiful game stops and ‘normal’ work is needed? Some former Arsenal players have since gone on to undertake jobs in a vast range of industries.
Of course, some Arsenal players take the obligatory step into either the media industry or a coaching profession. ‘Champagne’ Charlie Nicholas, Paul Merson and Alan Smith are all living the high life as part of the Sky Sports football broadcasting team with Lee Dixon representing the Gunners on Match of the Day. Ian Wright is regularly penning columns for The Sun newspaper. Dennis Bergkamp is part of the Ajax coaching setup and former Arsenal captain Tony Adams is manager of Azerbaijani sid,e Gabala FC. However, ex-Arsenal players do not always get the same recognition as some of the stars and others have to find work in any industry they can find.
Remember Michael Thomas? The midfielder who scored that goal at Anfield on the 26th May 1989 to win Arsenal the League title? Thomas later joined Liverpool, but following his retirement from football 2001, he set up a security company along with former Liverpool midfielder, Nigel Spackman. Their company is humorously titles, ‘Stop Taking the Michael.’ The co-partnership was broken by a row over expenses claims, but Thomas stayed with the business and now handles a VIP chauffeur and security company in the Wirral alongside his wife.
Between 1990 and 1997, Andy Linighan played at central defence for the Gunners and made 118 appearances, scoring five goals. One of his most important goals came in the replay of the FA Cup final of 1993 against Sheffield Wednesday, where, with the score tied at 1-1 and a minute left to go, Linighan out-jumped the Wednesday defence to score the winner and land Arsenal a Cup Winners’ Cup place and history as the first side to win the League Cup and FA Cup in the same season.
Following his footballing life, Linighan set up his own plumbing business in Hertfordshire and has enjoyed success with ‘Linighan Plumbing Services’. What’s the slogan for his company?
Andy Linighan: Average Footballer, Excellent Plumber.
Steve Williams was a marauding midfielder who played at Arsenal between 1984 and 1988. He made 95 appearances after a £550,000 switch from Southampton and was tipped to do great things at the Gunners. The introduction of George Graham as Arsenal manager in 1986 resulted in Williams losing his place in the side and he subsequently left towards the lower leagues with Luton Town and Exeter City.
Williams found his career in Exeter, leaving football for the magazine publishing business. This proved to be highly effective and he sold his shares to a business partner for a fantastic profit. Williams has also been involved with property development in 2003 in Devonshire.
One fantastic comes in the form of Charlie George. George’s finest hour came at Wembley when he scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over arch rivals Manchester United in the 1971 FA Cup final. After George’s exit in 1975, he flitted from club to club, travelling to St. George’s Budapest in Australia, flying across the world to North America to play for the Minnesota Kicks and back to the southern hemisphere to Hong Kong, playing for Bulova FC. Towards the end of his career, George also lost a finger in a freak accident with a lawnmower. The eccentricity of the long haired wizard continued, as he moved to Hampshire to run a pub and then plied his trade as a mechanic. Arsenal now employ Charlie George as a tour guide on their ‘Legends’ tours.
George’s moment famous moment
Arsenal are steeped in history and each player holds their own part in the rich heritage of the Gunners. They are now living their lives in which way they feel comfortable and are reminiscing on their professional football stories, whether that is within publishing, plumbing or security.
All are respected among Arsenal fans’ imaginations and these tales go to show that even if a player makes history, there is no certainty that they will within the football cloud.