Gallas first to feature for Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs

LONDON - France defender William Gallas will become the first player to appear in the league for London rivals Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur following his move across north London on Sunday.

The Premier League club confirmed on their website that he had signed a one-year deal.

The former Arsenal skipper, 33 last Tuesday, became only the 14th player to move from Arsenal to Spurs in almost a century and will earn a unique place in the record books as the first to appear in competitive action for London's three biggest clubs.

George Graham featured for Chelsea and Arsenal in the 1960s and 1970s and also later managed Arsenal and Spurs.

Clive Allen played for Tottenham and Chelsea and although he also signed for Arsenal in June 1980, he left two months later for Crystal Palace without playing a competitive match.

It seems appropriate that Gallas, released by Arsenal at the end of last season, should create another landmark in his already noteworthy career although he may not initially receive the warmest of welcomes at White Hart Lane.

Many Spurs fans loathe anything connected with their arch-rivals and still regularly curse their skipper Sol Campbell nine years after he left for Arsenal.


Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was not worried about the reaction of the fans and insisted Gallas's decision to join Spurs said much about the player's character.

"It's not like I've signed the Yorkshire Ripper," he told reporters referring to English serial killer Peter Sutcliffe. "He (Gallas) is a footballer. When he leaves here he might go and play for West Ham, who knows?

"He will come here with a point to prove ... if he had wanted an easy life he would have taken some big money in Greece or somewhere. He has put himself under real pressure by coming here and you have to give the man some credit.

"It's not like he came here for a big pay day. I promise you, he came because he wanted to play and he's taken the hardest challenge of all to come to Tottenham."

Moves between the clubs are rare and Gallas is only the fourth player to join Spurs having been at Arsenal in the last decade after Rohan Ricketts, Jamie O'Hara and David Bentley.

No matter what the fans think, he should be a valuable addition to a Tottenham defence that needs reinforcing.

England defender Ledley King has a long-term knee problem which restricts his appearances while Jonathan Woodgate is battling a career-threatening injury.


"I think he (Gallas) is a great player on a free transfer," Redknapp said. "I've signed a good player to keep Tottenham going forward instead of backwards."

Gallas is a peerless reader of the game who also scores goals and there has far more in his armoury than the petulant display most neutrals remember when he sat on the pitch after Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Birmingham City in February 2008.

He later explained his actions but was stripped of the captaincy by Arsene Wenger following an interview in which he questioned the commitment of some of his team mates.

At Chelsea Gallas won two Premier League titles but he failed to win any honours in his four seasons at Arsenal.

Born at Asnieres, just outside Paris, from Guadeloupe-born parents, Gallas started out at Caen playing his first game in the top flight against Racing Lens as a 19-year-old in 1996.

He moved to Olympique Marseille in 1997, playing there for four seasons before joining Chelsea in 2001.

He played his first match for France in 2002 in a 5-0 win over Slovenia and now has 84 caps, scoring five goals, including the infamous one against Ireland following Thierry Henry's handball in last November's World Cup qualifying playoffs.

He was a member of the France team that reached the 2006 World Cup final in Germany.

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