Armand Traore was once arrested for bringing a knuckle-duster to a North London Derby game.
The former Arsenal full-back, now 28, had no idea what to expect when he went along to the match, and was worried about how the Tottenham fans would react if they spotted him.
He explained to the Mirror: “Coming from France, I used to go to PSG versus Marseille – and the fans there would batter each other.
“I was only 17 and I had just started playing for Arsenal’s first-team. I had these images in my mind. I went to the north London derby but I was convinced someone might recognise me.
“I thought if a Spurs fan did, then I needed to be ready if something happened. So I had a knuckle-duster in my pocket — which was just stupid. As I walked into the stadium, the police found it on me and I ended up in custody for more than 10 hours. I didn’t see a ball kicked. Eventually they released me.
“I was just stupid. Young and naive. Can you imagine if something actually had happened? It would have been life-changing. I was young and I have learned my lesson. It was a stupid mistake.”
Traore was a Paris Saint-Germain fan when he was growing up, and only moved to England in 2005, aged 15. So unlike many of the players coming through the Arsenal youth academy, he probably didn’t have as clear an idea of what North London Derby matches were like.
At that time, the Marseille-PSG rivalry was one of the most violent in football, with Marseille fans chanting that they were going to kill PSG coach Luis Fernandez and his mother, and reports of supporters taking baseball bats on trips to games.
Nicolas Roulande told FourFourTwo in 2003: “As soon as we got in, it was total carnage. We threw whatever we could get our hands on – seats, flares, everything. I don’t think there was a single Parisian there who didn’t throw something. There were quite a few casualties.”
Perhaps then, you can understand why he might be worried, although the knuckle-duster was clearly a bad move.
Armand was lucky to be arrested, really, as actually using the weapon could really have had long-lasting consequences. Fortunately, the worst he had to face was that 10-hour spell in police custody and the wrath of Arsène Wenger.
Armand made 32 senior appearances for the Gunners over six years, being sent on loans to Portsmouth and Juventus during that period before eventually leaving for Queens Park Rangers.