Last Sunday ahead of the Everton match, thanks to ‘Play with a Legend’ I was able to not only play a small sided football match with some fellow fans at the AFC Community Hub, but also to meet and play against Arsenal hero. Nigel ‘Nutty’ Winterburn.
I could barely walk for a few days but it was worth it to hear Nigel chat at a Q&A afterwards about his playing days, the current team and favourite memories of his time at Highbury. A career that spanned Graham, Rioch and of course Wenger, had many highlights but it was fascinating to hear that whilst Anfield 89 was a savoured match he considered the 97/98 team the best he played in and his favourite season. He felt that Graham’s 89 and 91 teams won through team spirit and the manager’s incredible tactical organisation but in the first Wenger Double side he genuinely felt he was playing in the best team in the Premier League. This was wonderful for me to hear as my new book is partly about the 97/98 season.
I asked him how difficult a decision it was to leave his beloved Arsenal and the answer he suggested was perhaps something that previously had not been in the public domain. He has lost his regular place to Silvinho and was only playing every 5 or 6 games, so he has discussed his desire to leave Arsenal, believing he had two more good years football in him, at the top level. Shortly afterwards he was asked to see the manager in his office and when he arrived he was surprised to find David Dein waiting there with Wenger. Dein proceeded to surprise him by presenting him with a one year contact extension, with a large pay hike to a level of wages Winterburn had never expected to earn in his career. However, it was the player’s turn to surprise Dein and his manager by politely rejecting the huge pay rise at the club loved to leave and play weekly. Dein told him that it was the first time player had ever turned him down as Arsenal Chief Executive.
Winterburn left that summer for Upton Park to play fr West Ham on far less money and yet with the respect of everyone at The Arsenal and all the fans.
You too can play with an Arsenal Legend and support Arsenal in the Community and here’s how…….
Firstly, thank you to Dave for giving me the chance to have a guest blog on GT to let you know about an exciting opportunity for Gooners.
Play With A Legend is an events company and agency for former footballers that I set up back in 2014 alongside ex-Gunner Perry Groves. A core part of the business is that we give fans the chance to play football alongside their heroes and enjoy some post match drinks as they get the chance to hear stories from their careers.
As a Gooner myself, we’re delighted to have agreed with Arsenal in the Community to offer fans the chance to take part in special events with a range of former Gunners ahead of selected home weekend fixtures, throughout the 2018/2019 season. Fans get the opportunity to play 7-a side football alongside a former player and then enjoy a post-match Q&A with the legend.
It was fantastic to have GunnersTown’s very own Dave Seager come down and join us for an event with Nigel Winterburn ahead of the Everton match. Dave’s side sadly losing out in the game, but these games are very much about the taking part… and the novelty of having a 54 year old Nigel Winterburn showing that age doesn’t beat experience!
Nigel still loves playing football with his mates, so the opportunity to come and play with fans is one he really enjoys.
“I really enjoy being part of it! It is always a pleasure to meet and play alongside the fans, whatever their standard of football – it’s about enjoyment. The Arsenal Hub facility is great and I’m looking forward to being part of the ‘Play with a Legend’ events at the Arsenal Hub throughout the season.”
Each ‘Play with a Legend’ match at the Arsenal Hub will play in a role in helping support the work of Arsenal in the Community, with a guaranteed donation agreed to help support their terrific work.
‘Play with a Legend’ Co-Founder Perry Groves (above with Josh) said:
“It was an honour to represent Arsenal so, through Play With A Legend, getting the chance to meet fans ahead of home games and enjoy a game of football and the chance to tell a few stories from our careers is something that myself and the former players really enjoy. I can’t wait to meet fans for these events this season.”
Full football kit is provided for hire on the day, including a ‘Play with a Legend’ shirt, shorts and socks. There are on site changing rooms and showers for use by all participants & all guests will receive a signed photo of the legend as a gift as well as complimentary drinks during the Q&A.
The events cost £99pp, whilst a limited number of tickets will also be available to join each event solely for the Q&A, priced at £35pp. All events will start four and a half hours before kick-off, and finish two hours before the Arsenal match begins.
To keep up to date on upcoming events and to get further information and the chance to book please click here.
We hope to see you at an event during the season!
Play With a Legend
Thanks Josh and keep up the great work! Dave