Paul Merson and Niall Quinn trade tales from their Arsenal friendship

Former team-mates reminisce about their time at Highbury in the 1980s

Paul Merson, Arsenal

Paul Merson with Arsenal in 1996. Laurence Griffiths/EMPICS Sport

Former Arsenal, Aston Villa and England midfielder Paul Merson was a fixture for Arsenal before Arsene Wenger made his mark.

The Sky Soccer Saturday TV pundit joined Ireland legends Niall Quinn and Kevin Kilbane to reminisce about their playing careers, and given that Merse and Quinn's careers overlapped at Arsenal from 1985 until 1990 (Merson would remain at Highbury until 1997), the duo shared memories from their time there.

Not only did they overlap but as Quinn revealed, they made their Arsenal trails for together in the early '80s and became quick friends on and off the field.

"It was [against] Southall, the first game Quinny came over and he ripped it up. I think he got about five goals," said Merson, although Quinn quickly corrected the goal rates to read Quinn hat-trick and six goals for the hugely promising Merson.

"We used to play in the reserves," the ex-England player continued, "Then go and have a spicy pizza round your flat."

Merson also recalled a much more fun time for footballers coming up through the ranks.

"It was fun in them days. There wasn't as much pressure as there is on the players in this day and age. Every pass is under the microscope. But I loved it. I mean, it was one of them times I loved playing," he said.

"I wouldn't have swapped it, I really wouldn't have. Straight after a game you used to go out and you could have a laugh. I feel sorry for some of them now."

Quinn then dusted off another tale from their time together when they looked to put money on a snooker final when Joe Johnson ended up shocking favourite Steve Davis in the World Snooker Championship in 1986.

"We didn't have much money then so Merse came in and said 'I've got a plan'. He went to all the first team players at the time and Steve Williams gave you £50, I'll never forget it," Quinn began.

"You said, 'I want to pile up a bit of money, it's nothing illegal but I've got a certainty and I'll give you 25% on your money tomorrow. I don't think you even said certainty, I think you said it was a scheme and they all started giving you money, asking, 'What is it? What is it?'

"You said to me, 'Steve Davis against Joe Johnson, he's a pub singer' and I went along with it. We came in the next day and we were on our knees: 'Please lads' and I can remember Steve Williams had you by the throat."

news cards