ARSENAL legend Patrick Vieira grabbed one of his teammates by the throat at the age of just 20, Martin Keown has revealed.
Crystal Palace boss Vieira, who is currently preparing for an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday, joined the Gunners in 1996.
He would go on to enjoy an incredibly successful nine years with the North London outfit, leading them to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
And Keown, who was already three years into his second spell at Highbury when Vieira joined the club, says he knew the French midfielder was a leader from the moment he throttled a teammate in the dressing room during his first season.
Speaking to The Mail, Keown said: “One day a senior player was complaining about Patrick in the changing room. All in English — under the assumption Patrick wouldn’t understand.
“Well, he did. Patrick stood up, flew across the room, grabbed him by the throat and said in perfect English: ‘Why are you f***ing talking about me behind my back?’
“Here was this kid, new to the club, yet to make his debut for Arsenal, physically confronting one of the squad’s most senior members who shall remain nameless. I found it hilarious, I was clapping!
“I knew then and there that we had signed a strong character. That was the personality — it wasn’t until the following month that I saw the player.
“Patrick was brought on against Sheffield Wednesday and almost immediately played a 30-yard diagonal pass out to the wing.
“Highbury was in awe. There was applause, a chorus of ‘oohs’ and I knew we’d signed a special player.”
FREE BETS AND SIGN UP DEALS – BEST NEW CUSTOMER OFFERS
Vieira would go on to become the Arsenal skipper in 2002 and only relinquished the armband when he left the club in 2005.
He then went on to win four Serie A titles with Inter Milan, before returning to England with Manchester City in 2010 where he lifted the FA Cup the following year.
At international level with France, he won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championships two years later.