Spurs great Mabbutt recalls derby day fury
It is almost 20 years since Gary Mabbutt played in a North London derby, but the former Tottenham Hotspur captain’s feelings about the rivalry burn as intensely as ever.
“When the fixtures came out, you always looked to see when the games were,” Mabbutt told AFP this week, ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Arsenal in the Premier League tomorrow.
“I loved playing against Arsenal. It was exciting, it was exhilarating and it was a game you just had to win. “No matter what happened throughout the rest of the season-if the team were doing terribly, but you beat Arsenal, the fans would forgive you.
“Lots of families are split, lots of workplaces. A lot of my friends are Arsenal supporters, so there was always a lot of banter surrounding the games. “I’ve got friends who are Tottenham fans who refuse to have anything red in their house. They refuse to have a red car or let their wives wear a red dress.”
Mabbutt was born in August 1961, three months after Tottenham’s fabled First Division and FA Cup Double, and joined the club from his home-town team Bristol Rovers in August 1982.
He would go on to make 619 appearances for Spurs across a 16-year White Hart Lane career, spending 11 years as captain and tasting glory in the 1984 UEFA Cup and 1991 FA Cup.
Peering through the coach window en route to Highbury for his first derby, a 2-0 defeat in December 1982, Mabbutt was taken aback by the “hostile” reception from goading home fans.
His second derby proved more pleasurable, Spurs romping to a 5-0 win, but a 21-year-old Mabbutt spent the hours beforehand fretting about the sudden disappearance of the Afghan hound he owned with his girlfriend. “Literally about five minutes before kick-off, my girlfriend calls: she’d found the dog,” Mabbutt recalls. “I went out and we beat them 5-0, so it was a fantastic day.”
Signed as a central midfielder, Mabbutt became a centre-back of sufficient accomplishment that he won 16 England caps, scoring once.— AFP
LONDON: Former Tottenham Hotspur player Gary Mabbutt gives an interview to an AFP journalist outside Wembley Stadium ahead of Tottenham’s Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen in London. — AFP