William Gallas has talked to FourFourTwo about his time in London, at Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea and losing the Arsenal captaincy.
The French defender, now retired, spent a total of 12 years in the English capital. The first five of these were spent at Chelsea, and were undoubtedly the most successful. He then spent four years with the Gunners and three with Spurs before he moved all the way to Australia and Perth Glory FC.
He was no stranger to controversy, as you probably could have guessed from that first paragraph. There are few uncontroversial moves between Arsenal and Spurs, or Arsenal and Chelsea for that matter.
Gallas was made Arsenal captain in 2007, however, until the armband was taken away because he criticised his teammates. He moved to Spurs on a free.
Gallas spoke to this month’s edition of FourFourTwo about the decision to take the captaincy away from him, saying: “I felt it wasn’t very fair at the time, but in hindsight it was the best thing to do.
“Maybe the manager thought there was a bit too much pressure on my shoulders and I was being too passionate about my role as a captain. It happened after I’d given an interview in which my words about dressing room unrest got twisted and I was portrayed as a bad captain.”
No wonder then, that despite the captaincy, he didn’t pick his time at Arsenal as the favourite years of his career. That honour went to Chelsea, as Gallas told FourFourTwo in another article last month: “I liked all three, but maybe Chelsea was the most special time for me. It was my first club abroad and I had a great time there, winning a few trophies as well.
“And it was there that I first started my international career as well. When you are playing for a big club you expect to lift trophies. When I won the Premier League with Chelsea I felt like the King of England”
When asked about why Chelsea won the league when Arsenal couldn’t, Gallas pointed to age and experience as the defining factors, saying: “You need experienced players who have got the right personality. The average age of the Chelsea team I played in was higher than it was at Arsenal.
“It makes a difference, and that’s maybe still the case with the two clubs even now. The game isn’t just about being able to play nice football, it’s also about being prepared to fight.”
Gallas’ most famous moment in an Arsenal shirt was probably an altercation with the crowd after that 2-2 draw against Birmingham in which Eduardo broke his leg. The defender proceeded to attempt a one-man sit-down protest at the end of the game.
Most fans are probably happier now, having a captain with a little more sense in Per Mertesacker. But Gallas’ misadventures were certainly entertaining if nothing else.