Feature

Interview: Michael Thomas on that night in ‘89

Michael Thomas

He scored one of the English game’s most dramatic goals to earn Arsenal a last-minute league title on an unforgettable night at Anfield in 1989 – and followed up with one of the most iconic celebrations!

Join Ryan Rocastle as he speaks to Michael Thomas about that night in ‘89. This feature was first published in the Arsenal Magazine at the start of the 2015/16 season.

You’ve lived in the north west for more than 20 years now. Be honest – when Arsenal play Liverpool who are you rooting for?
It’s fairly simple – when the game’s at Anfield I put my Liverpool shirt on; when it’s at the Emirates I get my Arsenal shirt out. The only problem is when they play each other in the cup. I try to avoid those games.

On to the famous night at Anfield, how many times a week are you reminded of ‘that’ goal?
It’s hard to say – funnily enough I actually get reminded a lot by Liverpool and Everton supporters. I laugh at the Liverpool fans that give me stick for it. Some of them go on like it was the only time they ever had a chance to win a league title – they’ve won 18!

When was the last time you watched the goal?
Whenever Fever Pitch was last on TV. I don’t play it on YouTube or anything like that. I like to watch it when it’s on because it brings back such great memories but I cringe watching myself.

Are you able to try and explain what that celebration was about?
I was going to run and celebrate with the supporters but then I thought let me try a handstand but for some reason I didn’t follow it through.

You and my dad knew each other from when you were teenagers. What was it like to play in the first team together?
It was a dream. I actually didn’t know he played for Arsenal because when we played for South London schoolboys he never mentioned it. When we played we’d always attack and defend together on the pitch – we had a special bond.

If the team that won the league at Anfield was playing now, do you think they’d win the league this season?
We’d be up there certainly. I think if we played under Arsène Wenger people would see that actually we could play a lot more than given credit for. We weren’t just good defensively but needed George Graham to allow us to play with more freedom for us to show what we were capable of going forward.

My mum told me you grew up as a Spurs fan, would you like to deny or confirm those rumours?!
[Laughs] Believe it or not back in the 1980s when I was a boy Spurs actually played the best football. They had Glenn Hoddle, Garth Crooks, Ossie Ardiles and played some real good stuff. I was more a fan of the football they played as opposed to the actual side - and being a London boy I admired them. And now? Have those feelings disappeared? Yeah, I’d say so.