Martin Keown has revealed that Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira stole the throat of one of his teammates when he was just 20 years old.
Vieira, the Crystal Palace coach, who is currently preparing for the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday, joined Arsenal in 1996.
He would go on to enjoy nine incredibly successful years with the North London side, leading them to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Keown, who had already spent three years on his second spell at Highbury when Vieira joined the club, says he knew the French midfielder was a leader from the moment he smothered a teammate in the dressing room during his first season.
Talking to MailKeown said, “One day a big player was complaining about Patrick in the changing room. It’s all in English – assuming Patrick wouldn’t understand.
“Well, he did. Patrick stood up, flew across the room, grabbed him by the throat and said in excellent English, ‘Why are you talking about me behind my back?'” “
“This kid, new to the club, was not making his Arsenal debut, physically facing one of the biggest members of the squad who will remain unidentified. I found it funny, I applauded!”
“I knew then that we had signed a strong character. That was the character – I didn’t see the player until the next month.
Patrick was brought up against Sheffield Wednesday and almost immediately played a 30-yard diagonal pass to the winger.
“Highbury was in awe. There was applause, an ‘Oh’ chorus and I knew we had signed a special player.”
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Vieira went on to become Arsenal’s captain in 2002 and did not relinquish the captaincy until he left the club in 2005.
He then won four Serie A titles with Inter Milan, before returning to England with Manchester City in 2010 where he lifted the FA Cup the following year.
At the international level with France, he won the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship two years later.