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i thought i was going to play for arsenal and they loved me but i ended up at spurs
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I thought I was going to play for Arsenal and they loved me – but I ended up at Spurs

Jamie O’Hara says he was convinced he was going to be an Arsenal player but ended up joining rivals Tottenham. The former midfielder, 37, spent five years in Arsenal’s academy as a teenager and was one of the hottest young prospects in the country. But a falling out with Gunners academy director Liam Brady sparked a cross-town move to Spurs – the club he’d supported since he was a boy. “I was the best player [at Arsenal],” O’Hara claimed on the Ben Heath Podcast. “I believed I was going to play for them. They were the best side with the best academy. Arsenal loved me, I was the one everywhere was talking about who was coming through and was going to be [their next star].” The Gunners tried to tie him down to a professional contract when he turned 17, but after being told by Brady that he wouldn’t get into the first team until he was 21, O’Hara decided to leave. “I thought I was ready, I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t want to get held back… I didn’t want to wait four years.” Interest in him ramped up once he became a free agent, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and even Real Madrid offering him trials, but O’Hara opted to join Spurs instead. “I was a Tottenham fan,” he added. “I used to train at Arsenal in a Tottenham shirt. “I never wanted to leave home, I lost my mum at 17 and she was going through cancer at the time, so Tottenham was the perfect opportunity. But the funny thing is, I went to Tottenham based on the fact I didn’t want to wait until I was 21 to make my debut for Arsenal, but I didn’t make my Tottenham debut until I was 21 (laughs).” O’Hara made his first team debut in the 2007/08 season after a successful loan spell at Millwall. He became a first-team regular under Juande Ramos, but Harry Redknapp’s arrival a year later pushed him to the peripheries of the squad. DON’T SCRAP REPLAYS! Join our petition to keep the magic of the FA Cup alive! Loan spells at Portsmouth and Wolves followed before he joined the latter on a permanent basis in 2011. Shortly after his career went into free-fall. After suffering back-to-back relegations with Wolves he spent seasons at Blackpool, Fulham and Gillingham before dropping into non-league football in 2016. He hung up his boots in 2020 aged just 33. Join our new WhatsApp community and receive your daily dose of Mirror Football content. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.

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