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Patrick Vieira’s car keys taken away from him on Arsenal Christmas party

Patrick Vieira was unaware of Arsenal’s famous drinking culture when he turned up to a Christmas party in the nineties… and had his car keys taken as a result

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Iconic midfielder Patrick Vieira once had his car keys taken from him during a legendary Arsenal Christmas party.

The Frenchman arrived at the club’s festive bash expecting a quiet one… but it ended up being a boozy celebration.

Arsenal were known for their drinking culture before the days of Arsene Wenger, with players often enjoying a pint or two during the middle of the week.

“The tradition was we would go out and get absolutely leathered and then recover on our day off,” Gunners stalwart Lee Dixon once told FourFourTwo.

But when the new manager arrived in 1996, the “Tuesday Club” was banished and players were expected to follow healthy diets.

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Patrick Vieira in his early days at Arsenal
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Image:

Daily Mirror)

Wenger also brought several new players to Highbury and many, including Vieira, were unaware of Arsenal’s alcohol-inspired traditions.

And, although the Arsenal squad improved their diet and went on to win plenty of trophies, they still sunk a few beers at Christmas and weren’t going to let Vieira leave early doors.

“The boys weren’t having that,” added Dixon. “So we took his keys from him, and soon Patrick was loving it and dancing on the tables.”

Wenger did allow players to have a day off from time to time, as fellow Arsenal legend Ray Parlour recalled in January.

“There was no drinking for 14 days,” Parlour told talkSPORT while discussing the team’s first pre-season trip under the Frenchman.

“Imagine the British guys, we were gagging. On the last day, we had a meeting and Arsene Wenger said, ‘You’ve been superb, you can do what you like tonight.’

“We’ve already seen the pub we’re going to. There were about five of us who’d seen this pub and couldn’t wait, ‘Half-an-hour, be ready in reception and we’ll go.’

“Just before we are going to leave the hotel Gilles Grimandi, one of the French guys, said, ‘Can I come out with you guys?’

“I said, ‘Gilles, come out with us, you’ll have a much better time. I know what the French guys will do. They’ll go to the coffee shop, and talk about football.’

“I said, ‘No, no, Gilles; we’re going to the pub and going to have a good time.’ So he comes along with us.







Arsenal players had a “Tuesday Club” before Arsene Wenger arrived in 1996
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Image:

Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

“Steve Bould was the biggest drinker by a mile… he was always at the front of the queue! He was at the bar and said, ‘Hello Gilles, what do you want to drink?’

“He said, ‘Can I have a small glass of wine?’ So Steve goes to the barman, ‘Can I have 35 pints and one small glass of white wine?’

“We had seven each and the first two didn’t touch the sides. Gilles Grimandi is like, ‘How can you drink so much and run around?’

“We walk out of this bar after a quick seven pints, and we’re going to another bar now. And all the French lads were at the coffee bar smoking!

“I thought, ‘How are we going to win the league this year when we’re all drunk and they’re smoking?’ And we ended winning the double!”

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