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Xtratime's Head of Humour 2007
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Premiership



January 26, 2004

The bucks stops here for Vieira

By Matt Dickinson



The Arsenal enforcer, now older and wiser, says that no amount of money will make him desert Highbury



IF THERE WAS A HALL of fame for overseas players in the Barclaycard Premiership, you should look no farther for the first five inductees than Peter Schmeichel, Eric Cantona, Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola and Patrick Vieira. The last of those won my vote more than five years ago when, on one afternoon against Manchester United, he nutmegged David Beckham and then offered to step outside with Roy Keane.
Indiscipline may have caused others to reserve judgment on the player that Sir Bobby Robson once described as “such a monster it’s like tackling two blokes”, but there can be no more argument about Vieira’s stature — and not only in terms of his size. The man who once spat at Neil Ruddock as he was dragged kicking and screaming from the pitch at Upton Park has, despite nine red cards, become pretty much everything a footballing role model should be.



“I am embarrassed when I look back at some of the things I did before,” Vieira said. “A role model? Definitely not a few years ago. But I changed, I changed a lot since I came to the UK. I had some experiences in my life which make me improve as a player and improve a lot as a human being.”

He is proud of his part in the foundation of the Diambars Institute, which hopes to improve education for African children and, as Arsenal captain, he has embraced his wider responsibilities. Last week it was his duty to visit ChildLine, the club’s charity partner for this season.

A gaggle of female staff clasping cameras gathered to welcome him, so he is not only an idol for tough-tacklers in midfield. He is proud, too, of the decision he made last summer, when he signed a new three-year contract at Arsenal. At an estimated £4 million a year it was hardly a selfless act, but nor was it the selfish option. That would have been to turn his back on Arsène Wenger, his team-mates and supporters by chasing the greater riches and promises of greater glory on offer from Real Madrid.

“I had an offer through Arsenal to go to Madrid and when they come in, you have to think about it, look what is going on,” Vieira said. “But I am really proud of the decision I made because it wasn’t for money. Maybe in football, people are not used to players saying, ‘I’m happy, I don’t need to go for more money’.

“Every year people said I was going somewhere else, but why should I? It is like anyone even if they are working in a normal office. Another company can come in and offer a better contract and he has the responsibility to go or stay. The decision might be made for their family and not for themselves. It might be made because you like to work with some people.”

It is the same, he says, with Thierry Henry, even though the Arsenal striker could name his price to move to Chelsea. Roman Abramovich covets the forward more than any player on the planet and, according to the Russian’s advisers, the billionaire owner would happily part with at least £80 million of his fortune to lure Henry to Stamford Bridge.

“Abramovich might want to buy Thierry, but are Arsenal going to let him go? Does Thierry want to go?” Vieira said. “I don’t think any amount of money will make a difference. Thierry is like me: he needs to be happy, he needs to feel he is working for success. People say money can buy anyone, but I’m not so sure.”

If he sees out his new contract, Vieira will have spent a decade at Highbury. His desire to build an empire in North London is admirable and Wenger has proved that success is attainable even without spending fortunes, but the fact remains that Arsenal have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the European Cup. If anything would drive him into the arms of Madrid or Manchester United it is surely repeated failings in Europe, but Vieira believes that a corner has been turned in this campaign after a narrow escape from elimination in the group phase.

“I really believe that we believe in ourselves now,” he said. “Everyone was writing us off after the first few games and we had our backs against the wall, but winning the last three gave us the step up which made us really confident. It was a big step because they were all big pressure games and we came through. That makes you believe you can do anything and maybe we didn’t have that before.” The emergence of youthful talent also helped Vieira, 27, to commit his best years to Highbury. Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has been criticised for failing to promote from the junior ranks, but the run to the Carling Cup semi-finals has proved the quality of the next generation, as did David Bentley’s exquisite chip in the 4-1 victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday.

“David Bentley is really talented and we haven’t seen his best yet,” Vieira said. “Jerome Thomas, too. Quincy (Owusu-Abeyie) has so much talent and Gael Clichy did really well when Ashley Cole was suspended. And Graham Stack could be one of the best young goalkeepers in the country. It will be interesting to see over the next three or four years whether Chelsea can do it their way, by buying players, but I think it is important to bring players through the club from a young age.

“The character of the club is not something you build in two or three years, it has been here since my first year with Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon. Every year someone leaves but the spirit is still there. I learnt a lot from those old players and now I am trying to pass it on to the young ones for when I leave.”




PATRICK VIEIRA IS DEEPLY unenthusiastic about the suggestion that England and France might agree to draw their opening match at the European Championship finals in June. “A draw?” he said. “We can’t afford it because a win can take the pressure off the next two matches. Anyway, you should be more confident.
“England are a good team. They did well at the last World Cup. Anyone could lose that game to Brazil and you had injuries. You have to give them more credit.”

But surely France are still the overwhelming favourites, not only on June 13 but to win the tournament? “Favourites like we were in the World Cup?” Vieira said. “We were favourites and we went out in the first round. England can be Senegal. They have the power like Senegal and they have quality players who can make a difference. Scholes, Gerrard, Beckham — that is a good midfield.”



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great words from Paddy,i can't believe we had those discussions about him leaving,questioning his loyalty.

turned down Madrid,see Perez doesn't always get what he wants,no matter how much the spoilt Madrid fans say so.

he will be leading us out at Ashburton Grove in 2006,i have no doubts about that. :cool:
 

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VIEIRA WOAAAAH
VIEIRA WOAAAAH
HE SCORED AGAINST THE SCUM
AND ARSENAL WON TWO ONE

VIEIRA WOAAAAH
VIEIRA WOAAAAH
HE COMES FROM SENEGAL
HE WONT LEAVE ARSENAL;)
 

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I would never doubt/underate Patrick he is one of the best midfielders in the world. and he's a great romodel for budding midfielders
 
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