He was also a Scottish U25 international. He is a regular pundit on TV in Malta and Luxembourg, and an after-dinner speaker of some repute.
He writes exclusively for the site and we sure you continue to enjoy his keen and unique insight into the game.
In this column, he takes defender Gabriel Magalhaes to task for his post-game social media antics.
Arsenal sit top of the Premier League, and deservedly so, after a superb 3-0 win over Brentford on Sunday.
The goals from William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabian Vieira were outstanding, and Mikel Arteta’s men flew back to North London by private jet full of spunk and good spirits as they went above Man City to continue their impressive start to the season.
However, they couldn’t just enjoy the win on its own merits and unfortunately Brazilian defender Gabriel took the sheen off with an unnecessary post-game Tweet. He said, “Nice kickabout the the boys”, and indeed one of them was an actual boy, a 15 year old making his debut.
The Arsenal team was, as such, Boys II Men, but the social media antics of Gabriel should mean it’s the end of the road for his Twittering. Sure, some will say this was simply a case of hitting back at Brentford striker Ivan Toner after he said the exact same thing last season when they beat Arsenal 2-0, but since when do two wrongs make a right? The onus was on Arsenal to ensure that was the case, instead they have done the game a disservice.
We didn’t have social media back in my day, and I will admit that I would have been tempted to publicly call Graeme Souness a ‘thundering prick’ after a challenge in an FA Cup clash at Anfield which left me with thirty-eight stitches in my scrotum. But back then we did things the right way, the manly way; and after the game I shook his hand, drank more Babycham than I can remember, and drove home to put things behind me. I never did find out what caused the dent in the front bumper either.
In this week of all weeks, to take a cheap shot like that is simply outrageous, and Gabriel could learn a thing or two from former England captain David Beckham. As he dressed as a Beaky Blinder and queued for hours to show his respects to the Queen, here was the Arsenal man taking a plop-shot at an opponent on the Internet.
Becks, superb footballer and keen brewer, is an example to us all. With the World Cup on the horizon, the £15m a year he earns from Qatar reminds us all the respect has to be bought, not earned, but you earn it by not being a so-called troll on social media. Are Qatar paying Gabriel vast amounts of cash to promote their country in a positive light and to keep people’s beady eyes away from issues like thousands of migrant workers dying to build stadiums? No they are not, and that tells you plenty about his standing in the game.
The fact that he has been roundly and rightly criticised by people who work for Talksport, and who have 8 numbers in their Twitter handles, demonstrates just how far standards at Arsenal have fallen. I used to think that Arteta was the right man for the Gunners, bringing a bit of sergeant major discipline like former boss George Graham, but it turns out he’s willing to turn a blind eyelid to his players’ online escapades.
What next? Bukayo Saka calling out Chas and Dave on their own MySpace page, or Emile Smith Rowe sharing links to download the latest chart hits via Napster? This is a slippery slope to Internet anarchy, and the sooner Arteta and his colleague Dudu get on top of it, the better.
If you’re a decent person, you’ll spare some thoughts and prayers for Ivan Toner after such a wicked burn, and hopefully he recovers well enough to perform well for England during this international break.
PS: Thanks to all of you who sent correspondence asking about my whereabouts. It’s been some time since my last column, but I’ve been filming a Maltese version of hit show ‘Game of Squids’, but unfortunately we kept losing cast members for some reason.
Till next time, your pal. GD.