Tottenham and Arsenal are only a few miles apart but over the years very few players have turned out for both clubs. In transfer dealings Arsenal have come out much better in the few deals that have occurred and William Gallas has probably been the best player to make the move from Arsenal to White Hart Lane.
The talk at the Emirates ahead of the north London derby will most probably focus on the numerous signings made by spurs this summer compared with Arsene Wenger’s very limited transfer business. Spurs have had a summer like never before with 8 new signings, at the last count, and all are quality players and full internationals ready to help Spurs battle for a Champions League place. The Brazilian, Paulinho, is well aware of the importance of the derby against Arsenal. At the start of the season in an interview with The Guardian, Paulinho said,
I come from a club everybody loved to hate and that has two massive local rivals just in the same city, let alone the country so I do understand what it means for Tottenham fans to beat Arsenal. Since my first day at Tottenham it became clear to me.
Arsenal → Tottenham
It is rare for players to move between the north London clubs so Willian Gallas’ arrival at White Hart Lane in the summer of 2010 was a shock to many. He had been released by Arsenal that summer after 4 years having been with Chelsea for 5 years prior to that. Harry Redknapp was looking for a central defender with experience of Champions League football and with Gallas available, he decided to make the move.
How would Spurs fans react to a former Chelsea and Arsenal player playing for Tottenham? For some it was hard to accept but in time, they moved on as Gallas used his experience to assist Tottenham that season. He was made captain by Redknapp for the derby at the Emirates that November and led the team to a memorable 3 – 2 success with Younes Kaboul scoring the winning goal. Gallas used his experience to good purpose and had an outstanding match as Spurs held AC Milan to a scoreless draw to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League, making a crucial goal line clearance. He remained with Spurs until being released in May and although he started last season in the team, age and injury were catching up with him so his appearances were less frequent.
Previous signings from Arsenal were less successful. In 1964 Bill Nicholson signed Laurie Brown. He had been capped as an amateur centre forward but was regarded by Arsenal as a defender. Nicholson played him at centre forward as a replacement for Bobby Smith and although he helped Spurs to victory over his former club on his debut he soon returned to the defence. On the arrival of Mike England in 1966 he moved on to Norwich.
In 1968 Jimmy Robertson who scored one of the goals in the 1967 FA Cup Final went to Highbury with David Jenkins coming the other way. Robertson enjoyed a successful period with Arsenal but Jenkins failed to impress and was one of Nicholson’s less successful signings. Robertson became the first player to score for both clubs in a north London derby. Adebayor has now joined him with goals in the last two games for Spurs at the Emirates.
More recently players with Arsenal connections who have come to White Hart Lane have failed to achieve any degree of success at the club include David Bentley, Emmanuel Adebayor, Rohan Ricketts and Jamie O’Hara. The latter pair were young players with Arsenal who came into the Tottenham Academy and while they reached the first team, there was no lasting success. Bentley scored a wonder goal at the Emirates in the 4 – 4 draw in 2008 but after that it was mostly downhill. Adebayor was a thorn in the Tottenham flesh for many season with Arsenal but after a first successful season while on loan he disappointed greatly last year and may well be on his way out of White Hart Lane.
Tottenham → Arsenal
In contrast the players who moved in the other direction have provided Arsenal with considerable service over the years. Jimmy Robertson has already been mentioned but two of the biggest Tottenham names of the time made that move down the Seven Sisters Road.
Pat Jennings was sold by Keith Burkinshaw and signed for Arsenal. It was a major blunder by the Tottenham manager, one he readily admits, and it took many years for Spurs to find an adequate replacement for Jennings. Such is the high regard in which Jennings is held by Tottenham supporters that that move has never been held against Jennings who is revered by Spurs fans today.
The same can not be said for Sol Campbell who saw out his contract in 2001 to move to Arsenal on a free transfer. The Tottenham captain had betrayed the club and the fans who has supported him for many years and to this day still haven’t forgiven him.
In 1976 Terry Neill returned to Spurs to sign Willie Young a player he has signed from Aberdeen. Young enjoyed a successful period at Arsenal, more than he had done at White Hart Lane. Neill also took the young central defender Steve Walford to Highbury. He had made only two appearances for Spurs but made over 90 before moving on to Norwich City.
Other players who have played for both clubs include:
- Jimmy Brain who was the first player to do so in the 1930s. He was a prolific goal scorer in 8 years at Arsenal but failed to reach the same level with Spurs.
- George Hunt made the opposite move in the late 1930s. A leading scorer with Spurs, his one season at Highbury was less successful.
- Freddie Cox, a winger moved from Spurs to Arsenal in the late 1940s.
- Vic Groves was an amateur with Spurs in the early 1950s. He scored twice on his League debut but only made 4 appearances for Spurs, scoring 3 goals. He later turned professional with Leyton Orient who sold him to Arsenal where he spent nine seasons.
In transfer business between the two clubs Arsenal have certainly had the better of the few deals that have happened but there’s little likelihood of any dealings between the two clubs in this modern age.
Last Time at The Emirates – Read more
Spurs Record at Arsenal - Read more
The North London Derby Rivalry – Read more