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Carrick: I thought Arsenal was a done deal in 2004 – and then Santini didn’t know who I was!

Michael Carrick Arsenal

The midfielder made almost 700 club appearances for West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester United, for whom he won 12 major titles and is now a coach.

Having progressed through West Ham’s youth ranks and lifted the FA Youth Cup, Carrick moved across London to Spurs after spending a season in the second tier.

However, the pass master reveals that he nearly signed for Tottenham’s arch rivals – meeting Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to discuss the deal – and would have become a Gunner had a young Cesc Fabregas not impressed the Frenchman two days later.

Speaking exclusively in the January 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out Wednesday, Carrick explains: “I was really close to signing for Arsenal, and even had a meeting with Arsene Wenger at his house. I was pretty confident it was happening, and for a few days I thought it was a done deal and I was going to Arsenal.

“I met Wenger on the Friday, but then on the Sunday Arsenal played Man United in the Charity Shield, with Cesc Fabregas handed his chance and having a great game. I think Wenger decided to give him a run in the side, so there was no room for another midfielder and the deal was off. It was a big crossroads moment in my career.”

Who are you?

Carrick’s relationship with Arsenal’s manager paled in comparison the man in Tottenham’s hot seat: the former England international admits that newly appointed Spurs boss Jacques Santini didn’t know who he was when he turned up for his first day of training.

“He didn’t seem to know who I was – it was a very strange moment,” says Carrick. “I arrived at Spurs’ training ground and said to my adviser Dave [Geiss], ‘I’m not too sure he knows who I am!’ He said, ‘I think you’re right.’

“I’d signed that morning, so it was all agreed with the club and I went to his office to meet him. It was weird. I ended up with the reserve team on my first day of training, and later found out that I’d been signed more by Frank Arnesen, who was Spurs’ sporting director.”

Read the full One-on-One interview with Michael Carrick in the January 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. The 2018 awards special features interviews with Goal of the Year winner Gareth Bale, Man of the Year David Silva, English Player of the Year Lucy Bronze, and speaks to Ivan Perisic about Croatia’s World Cup heroics. Plus, we hail Gareth Southgate, Virgil van Dijk and Comeback of the Year winner Hardlife Zvirekwi, who returned to action despite having a hand amputated.

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