Interview

'You go out and you're fighting for the fans'

After 48 years as an Arsenal player, coach and assistant manager, there is no one better placed to discuss the importance of the north London derby than Pat Rice. 

Ahead of Saturday's game at Wembley against Tottenham, we asked the club legend about the game and what it means to him.

"When you play against your fiercest rivals, as much as Tottenham want to win, we want to win even more," Rice told Arsenal Player. "We should want to win even more. 

"For me, it wasn’t about the winning of the game, it was bragging rights. Having been brought up around Highbury, I know what it was like when Tottenham had a great side in the 1960s with Bobby Smith and John White. I know how much stick we took as Arsenal supporters, and quite rightly too.

"You come up through that and you want [the players] to know that because some of them are from abroad and they haven’t sampled it. You tell them that sometimes it’s more than winning a game, it’s the bragging rights. 

"Nine times out of 10, you go out and you’re fighting for the supporters. You know that if we lose - and please God we don’t - for that 24 hours or so, or until we play them next time, you’re going to get hammered.
 
"The thing about it is if you win it, everything that’s gone before it passes to one side - it’s not as important as winning the derby. The big thing is that whenever people seeing you trying and fighting for the cause - at least with Arsenal fans - sometimes you may win or lose, but as long as you try and they can see that fight, you can hold your hands up. That’s all people can ask of you."