Pete Tong’s Arsenal love affair: DJ on Wenger’s replacement, signings + more
Lots of Arsenal fans would say it’s all gone Pete Tong at the Emirates this season.
But what does the man himself reckon?
The legendary DJ, a lifelong Arsenal fan, has been following the club since the 1960s.
Over the past five decades, the 57-year-old has seen good times and bad, highs and lows.
Mirror Football caught up with him the day after Arsenal’s crushing defeat to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Europa League.
The Radio 1 veteran, set to perform at Beat-Herder festival in summer, told us who he thinks should replace outgoing manager Arsene Wenger and who the new boss should sign.
He also reminisced about his best and worst Gunners moments….
1. When did your Arsenal love affair begin?
In the school playground. The best player when we were eight or nine wore an Arsenal shirt. I was locked in from that moment. I grew up in Kent so I wasn’t a Highbury native or anything like that.
2. Were you any good at football?
I played at school – I was in the team – but I went to public school and we stopped playing when I was 11 or 12 and started playing rugby instead, to my great disappointment.
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When I was a teenager, I started DJing, so I never played Saturday or Sunday football. I’m a lifelong fan. Back in the day, myself and DJs, Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and Nick Warren would have a kickabout.
3. Do you remember your first game?
It was away at Stamford Bridge. A friend of the family took me. It was before there were any seats.
The first match I really remember, though, is the League Cup final against Swindon in the 1968/69 season. It was my first taste of an Arsenal disaster.
4. Who’s your all-time favourite player?
I’d probably say Thierry (Henry).
There’ll always be a place in my heart for players I watched as a teenager – Ray Kennedy, Bob Wilson, players like that.
But that Wenger team, with Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires, was great to watch.
5. And your favourite current player?
I think Ainsley Maitland-Niles looks really promising – I hope he comes through, but I’d probably say Aaron Ramsey or Mesut Ozil on his good days.
(Alexandre) Lacazette is settling into place now – I think he has done well without much service – and (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan will be good after a full pre-season.
6. What’s been your best Arsenal moment?
The first euphoric moment was when Charlie George scored against Liverpool in the 1971 FA Cup Final and the iconic image of him lying flat on his back, celebrating.
That and Michael Thomas’ goal to win the First Division in 1989 stand out.
7. And the worst?
Definitely the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2006.
I’d gone on my own and was only a couple of rows behind the bench. I bought a ticket for about £500 and went to the Stade de France.
To get so close, playing with 10 men for most of the game after (Jens) Lehmann was sent off, and then to concede two in the last 15 minutes…it was a lonely experience.
8. What’s your favourite stadium, other than the Emirates?
The Nou Camp or the San Siro – they’re unbelievable stadiums.
Anfield, too, though -the atmosphere is always great.
9. Who are the noisiest fans?
The Turkish clubs’ fans can be pretty loud, but the Liverpool and Rangers’ support is always strong.
10. Were you in the ‘Wenger in’ or ‘Wenger out’ camp?
I was probably in until 2014/15 when we finished second to Leicester after we messed it up.
He definitely should’ve gone last year after the FA Cup win, but I do think the timing of it this year has been right. It gives him a better send-off.
I wish it had come to fruition in the Europa League, but the goal in the first leg of the semi-final killed it.
11. Who should replace him as manager?
It’s a difficult one. I don’t think any of the ex-players are ready yet. Vieira is the closest, but if he gets the job, it could spoil things for him in the future.
It could be another David Moyes at Manchester United situation.
(Luis) Enrique, (Massimiliano) Allegri or (Diego) Simeone would be good. It needs to be someone who’s tough and not afraid to make tough decisions.
People talk about Eddie Howe or Sean Dyche, but I don’t think they’re right for us.
12. Who would you like to sign?
Defenders! That’s the biggest challenge. (Diego) Godin for Atletico last night – I don’t know how old he is, but he was incredible.
(Leonardo) Bonucci at Juventus, Mats Hummels – we seem to have been linked with him for years – or (Jerome) Boateng would be good.
I think the front is looking pretty good, but we need to be more solid at the back.
- Pete Tong will be performing at Beat-Herder festival, which takes place in Lancashire between Friday July 13 and Sunday 15. Go to the Beat-Herder website .
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