Ray Parlor has lifted the veil on the ‘scariest moment’ of his footballing career – Sol Campbell wearing an Arsenal shirt against ex-club Tottenham.
Romford Pele was no stranger to the fierce derby games and rivalries during his 12-year career with the Gunners, but no other game came close to the intimidating atmosphere surrounding Campbell’s first return to White. Hart Lane after his infamous switch between enemy clubs.
It may have happened almost 20 years ago, but there is still a lot of bitterness in north London over the transfer of the center-back, which has earned him the permanent nickname “Judas” supporters of Spurs.
But the hatred at the time was incredible, and Parlor says it was evident as soon as the Arsenal players arrived at White Hart Lane and they were still seething by the time of their rocky departure from the stadium after their 1 draw. -1.
Speaking on talkSPORT, the former midfielder said: “The fiercest game I have ever been in was Sol Campbell’s first game against White Hart Lane – WOAH!
“I will always remember going out [of the stadium], we’ve got pelters, we’ve got all kinds of stuff thrown at our coach.
And when by ‘coach’ he obviously means the team bus, not manager Arsène Wenger.
“When you come out of Tottenham you have to turn left at a T-junction, and the police were in our coach telling us not to stop, to continue as fast as possible, and that was dangerous.
“We went around this corner so fast that all the plates came out of the cupboards – SMASH!
“We thought the window was back!
“It was probably the scariest and most intimidating game I have ever played.”
That didn’t stop good ol Razor from laughing, as he tried to shed some light on what would have been a pretty heartbreaking experience for Campbell.
“I shouted at the coach, ‘Boss, I have an idea’,” he said.
“Arsène Wenger got up and said: what is it?
“I said, ‘Boss, why don’t we just put a sign on the window saying, Sol is sitting here, at least they’ll have the right window!
“And I will always remember the boss’s response: ‘Yes, that’s a good idea, we’re doing that.’
“Sol was just looking at me with a smirk on his face.”
And probably also tinged with genuine fear – remember, he hadn’t known Ray for so long.
Parlor admitted that he believes that outside of this game, Arsenal’s North London derbies against Tottenham were NOT Arsene Wenger’s biggest games for the Gunners.
Instead, it’s their battles with Premier League title rivals Manchester United that the players have been waiting for the most.
“You do it for the fans in the derbies, really,” Parlor explained.
“You want to win the game, but you still only get three points if you beat your local rivals, it’s more for the fans and bragging rights on Monday mornings when people go back to work.
“It was always a big game, playing against Spurs it was a North London derby.
“But for me Manchester United was a more important game when I played because you knew if you could get four out of six points in the two games you had a chance of winning the league.”
Arsenal and Tottenham renew their rivalry this weekend in the first North London derby of the new Premier League season.