Niall Quinn did not enter the pitch for Arsenal’s famous victory at Anfield in 1989. Only two substitutes could be named at the time – and Martin Hayes and Perry Groves got the go-ahead as substitutes for Arsenal.
But Quinn was definitely part of the traveling party and sat down on the bench. Indeed, in the scenes of jubilation that followed the added time winner Michael Thomas, the Irish international can be seen leading the crazy celebrations, ignoring manager George Graham’s calls for restraint and respect for the home side. discouraged.
Having debuted in 1985 and started 81 times, Quinn’s impact at Highbury had waned since Alan Smith arrived from Leicester in 1987, but he did play his part in the 1989 break-in, scoring in the victory of April against Everton. Indeed, since the Gunners only won the title on goals scored, this strike against the Toffees was as important as any other.
But three appearances in all weren’t enough for a medal, and Quinn had a rude awakening when title celebrations resumed in an official capacity.
“We had this big blow, they invited 1,000 fans to the Dorchester Hotel for the medal presentation to the players who had won the title – it was a big, big event,” Quinn told the From The Horse’s podcast. Mouth.
“As names were called out for a medal, one of our players who hadn’t played enough games, but came out of his contract and wanted to sign a new contract, was called up for his medal. So, I thought, that’s great, if he has one, I’ll have one.
“My name has not been called.
“But later that night the president came to our table and rather than calling me on stage he handed me a silver tray.
“Mr. (Peter) Hill-Wood, he was such an old Etonian, he said, ‘Young man, glad you made an impact. It was great. What position were you playing? ‘ I was just like, oh, okay. Thank you so much. OK, I didn’t get the medal, big.
“I also had a JVC, whatever it was, a DVD player – it wasn’t even DVDs, a CD player back then.
“So I just took them both and left and went home on the N29, the night bus.
“That’s the amount they paid me at the time. I couldn’t afford a taxi home. I wasn’t on the team, so I wasn’t getting any bonuses and everything, and money for appearances.
“So I took the N29 bus home and thought several times to throw it away. The point is, I left very soon after anyway. I went to City.
Quinn submitted a transfer request before the start of the following season, although he did not leave until March 1990, when Howard Kendall signed him for Manchester City.
“I never really felt like an Arsenal player after that night, even though I had been there for six years, played around 90 games for them, scored 20 goals, I think.
“It’s been a part of my career that has been a great learning curve, and to be at Arsenal, to get the breaks that I took under Don Howe to start and George Graham for the first 18 months, I have. was on the team the whole time.
“But then to be number two you end up cracking up and saying, okay, I have to go somewhere else.”
“I said, I’m leaving now, and I did everything I could to leave, and eventually – because the windows were closing in March around that time. You could go all year round, and I literally walked in on the last day at five o’clock.
“I went to Man City and my career changed.
“As good as he was at the start, it was a tough resort for three years.
“Alan Smith was brilliant, and I’m sticking with him. Alan Smith came on and was superb, one of Arsenal’s great center-forwards, but he never got injured and he was never booked.
“We didn’t have seven submarines like you have now. You had two at most, one when I started and then two.
“It was difficult, but I will always be grateful to Arsenal for giving me a break, for sure, but I was happy to come out.”
Quinn ranks his first goal for Arsenal – a game broadcast live on RTÉ’s sports stadium – alongside Ireland’s strike against Holland in Italia ’90 as the most important of his career.
“One was my debut for Arsenal against a great Liverpool side, and Bruce Grobbelaar dropped one under similar circumstances. It was my debut, and I called in hopes he would drop, and He did it.
“Then the second, Hans van Breukelen was the Dutch keeper. Messy goal, but again I called hoping he wouldn’t save him properly.
“Why did I do that?” Because Pat Rice was the coach of my youth team at Arsenal and every day after practice we finished, and he made me follow after every shot.
“He said one day it will work for you, and it was actually two days, two great days. I ended up staying in the Arsenal squad.
“Obviously you score on your debut against Liverpool, you stay and you become a player, and my international setup was the first competitive game that I was ever chosen to start, and I stayed in. the team for 10 years later.
“So those were two very important goals for a hope or trivial belief that the goalkeeper could drop one.”
Quinn also thanks Jack Charlton for honing his center-forward play with a less is more approach, except when it came to scavenging the ball.
“He would stop in the middle of practice and he was like ‘what are you doing? You run like a headless chicken, stay still ”.
“I was taught to go get the ball, and I was working on my touch and I wanted to show him that I had a good touch, and he went for it, but you’re not there for your touch.
“Go to the far post, hold on.
“He was screaming and screaming at me, and it took a while, and I think he said to himself once in an interview, ‘Niall didn’t listen for a few years, but once he started to listen and understood, he became a bit of a player ”. So he took all the credit for it, you know?
“One day when I came back to be a fifth midfielder so I had to make a five-line – now they do it more military today, but in our time it was unheard of Seen, and I was going, wait a second, we’ve got the ball, we’re moving forward, and I have to get back to midfield in case we lose it?
“He said ‘yeah, and if you don’t like that go play for another country.’
“I remember John Aldridge once said, publicly – anyone who plays in front of Ireland is going to turn their legs into tree stumps that run so much.
“I remember Jack got the bump in it, brought it up at a team meeting, and his response was, ‘John, now you have to do it twice or I won’t take you back. “.
“It was Jack’s way. He was very tough and tumbling about it, but he was also so adamant that this was going to be his lane or the highway, and the way he changed the way Ireland played our football back then. Eoin Hand, John Giles originally in the days of Eoin Hand, in this new era that he brought that really focused on making sure that teams don’t overtake us, and that we stay in the game, and if we put pieces into it, we would be competitive.
“It was primitive, but I think it was primitive when we had the ball because we were really a long ball team.
“But apart from the ball we were doing everything Klopp asks his Liverpool players to do now in terms of building a wall when you don’t have the ball, and making sure that the number 10 of the teams internationals, opposition teams at that time, they always used to play against us and there was always too much space, they would always have a great game against Ireland.
“So we just cut that and made sure the rate of work we had between one of the top players was at least going back, having five in midfield, that number 10 still had a wall. in front of him, so he hadn’t gotten out of it and happened through us.