Former Arsenal star recalls how Sir Alex Ferguson helped revive his career


Charlie Nicholas is a former Scottish forward who came through the ranks of Celtic. He won the Scottish Premier Division with them twice between 1980 and 1983. Following an outstanding 1982/83 season in which he scored 48 goals in 53 appearances, he was wanted by a lot of clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan. However, in the end, the forward ended up signing for Arsenal in 1983.

Nicholas became a hero for the Gunners after scoring a brace against Liverpool in the 1987 League Cup final. Despite his brilliant performances with Arsenal between 1983 and 1985, he wasn’t picked for the Scotland National team.

Stotland manager at the time refused to come to London

Speaking to Jeff Stelling on the ‘Football’s Greatest‘ podcast, Charlie Nicholas revealed that manager Jock Stein did not pick him for the national team since he wanted Nicholas to sign for Liverpool. At that time, Scottish legends Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish used to play for the Reds.

Nicholas said: “[I have] tremendous memories of the World Cup, Jeff. I wasn’t anticipating going. Jock Stein had stopped picking me because I’d joined Arsenal [from Celtic in 1983]. He wanted me to join Liverpool.

“We had a discussion. Jock never really came and watched Arsenal, he would never come that far south. So he came to Anfield, and we always watched [Anfield], and he had a word after with me saying I chose the wrong club. And I thought, ‘There’s nothing I can do about that now!'”

Charlie Nicholas makes it into the squad for the 1986 WC

If Stein had still been in charge, the Arsenal forward wouldn’t have made it to Scotland’s 1986 World Cup squad. However, Stein died immediately after an 1986 WC qualification match. Sir Alex Ferguson took over and Nicholas made it into the Scotland squad.

Charlie Nicholas went on to speak about an interaction with Ferguson: “In 1986, Ferguson took over temporarily. He was Aberdeen manager still but he came to watch me at Aston Villa. He said to me after the game ‘I don’t know why you’ve not been in the squad, I hear you’re playing well but because we don’t see much of you in Scotland everybody thinks the opposite’.”

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