Patrick Vieira said he had "to prove everything" when he signed for Arsenal.
The Frenchman joined the Gunners from AC Milan in 1996 as a 20-year-old who had only made two first-team appearances for the Italian side.
Vieira went on to lift three Premier League trophies, four FA Cups, and captain the Invincibles during his nine years at Arsenal, but it was a tough start to life in north London.
“Seeing the players around, the big names and the big players, was completely different,” Vieira told Arsenal Media in May 2011.
“The language was difficult, the culture was completely different, the game that I knew was completely different, so I had to adapt myself really quickly.
“I had to prove everything because I was coming from Milan and nobody knew me. I hadn’t done anything in football. I was a young talent who hadn’t done anything yet, so I had it all to prove and it all to do.”
This week marks the 19th anniversary of Vieira’s debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury, and the French midfielder says he fell in love with English football straight away.
“It was a fantastic moment because I was on the bench and the atmosphere in the stadium was new for me,” he said. “It was unbelievable and more than what was expected. The singing, the tackles were flying in and the fans were so close to the action and I was getting so excited.
“When Ray Parlour was injured I went to warm up and I think I was watching more of the game than doing my warm up. It was good because we were losing 1-0, then I came on and the game finished 4-1.
“You’re happy with yourself, with your confidence, all the players come over to you and say, ‘Well done, you played really well’. For a young player it is a very good start.”
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