‘Which supervisor would make the very best politician? Arsene Wenger’: Keir Starmer on five-a-side, Gary Neville – and whether or not he’d moderately be PM or Arsenal win the league
Keir Starmer is the previous director of public prosecutions turned Labour chief and, he hopes, can have a brand new job within the subsequent couple of years so as to add to the CV.
However one fixed by his life has been soccer. In addition to being a longtime Arsenal season ticket holder – he represents the close by constituency of Holborn and St Pancras – he is been a part of the identical weekly five-a-side sport for many years.
FourFourTwo caught up with the prime ministerial hopeful to talk Gary Neville, profitable titles and, er, quite a bit about Spurs…
What was the primary sport that you simply ever attended?
My first ever sport was in actual fact a Spurs sport! I performed for Boulthurst Athletic Beneath-11s, a neighborhood crew to Hurst Inexperienced in Surrey the place I grew up. Phil Beal was the native boy who performed for Spurs on the time – for some cause, he adopted our membership and would often come alongside. Then in the future, he received all of us in for a Tottenham night sport. It was sensible, however fairly humorous for me – I used to be already an Arsenal fan.
What was your most interesting second as a footballer?
I performed for Homerton Academicals as an grownup in a pan-London league. Yearly we’d valiantly problem for the cup, however not get far. One 12 months, I feel it was 1995, we had a breakthrough and eventually gained the title, which was an enormous achievement for us. I keep in mind us all taking place to the stadium collectively simply south of the river, and I’ve nonetheless received a number of images. That was actual glory, it felt like the best second: when Accies gained the cup.
What’s your matchday routine on the Emirates Stadium?
There’s a gaggle of seven or eight of us who meet within the pub, have a drink and a few pre-match banter. Certainly one of them I went to highschool with, one was a centre-forward in a crew I performed for, then there’s both my son or my daughter and some friends from work – it’s a beautiful combine of individuals. We stroll to the bottom collectively. I’m within the higher tier on the Emirates with one in every of my kids, then everybody meets again on the pub afterwards for the debrief.
Who was your childhood hero and did you ever meet them?
Alan Ball, as somebody born in 1962, then taking part in soccer loads from 11 to 18. However I by no means received to satisfy him.
I’ve met Ian Wright a few instances – he was in parliament not too long ago. I’m unsure what he was doing there… I’ve met Michael Thomas, too – I wasn’t on the sport at Anfield in 1989, however I noticed it dwell on tv and he’s an enormous hero. We met at parliament, as he’s doing a little work on footballers with cash issues – he stated he was excited to satisfy the chief of the Labour occasion, and I couldn’t consider I used to be assembly him!
Paul Merson was additionally right here with our MP Carolyn Harris, as a part of her marketing campaign on playing habit, and he stated he needed a selfie with me. I stated, “No, no, I’ve been watching you from the stands all this time – I’d like a selfie with you!”
How a lot has soccer modified for you because you have been a toddler?
Massively, though I wouldn’t say since I used to be a toddler – dwelling in Hurst Inexperienced, I didn’t go to many video games till I used to be older. However going to Arsenal pre-Premier League, soccer was actually within the doldrums, it wasn’t glamorous. If something, it was frowned upon to go to the soccer. Right this moment, everybody says, “I am going to the soccer, I like soccer”. Discover me somebody who doesn’t like it. The Premier League is the very best league on the earth and everybody’s into it now. It’s remodeled.
What’s your favorite purpose that you’ve seen dwell?
Stay, it’s received to be Thierry Henry in opposition to Manchester United – when he flicked the ball up and volleyed it into the highest nook. My favorite of all time, which I noticed dwell on TV, is Dennis Bergkamp at Newcastle – that tremendous flip to flick the ball a technique round Nikos Dabizas, whereas he went the opposite, then sliding it into the online. I like Bergkamp, as each Arsenal fan does.
Which gamers from the previous would you deliver again to star within the present Arsenal facet?
Oh, Henry. He had this manner of virtually going up when he received to the ball, it was like a hovercraft. It was unimaginable to see. However Bergkamp’s at all times there at the back of my thoughts. He’d be very good within the present Arsenal crew.
Who’s your favorite participant who by no means performed for Arsenal?
Paul Gascoigne. I do know, Spurs once more – your readers are going to begin considering, ‘This bloke’s received a Tottenham obsession…’ [Laughs] Gazza was such an exquisite footballer and inspiration on the pitch. I watched him plenty of instances for England – it was thrilling to see his dedication. He’s one of the vital gifted gamers I’ve seen. I’ve at all times had a gentle spot for him.
What’s your high soccer e-book?
Fever Pitch (opens in new tab) is an excellent learn – for Arsenal particularly, however for each fan soccer fan. Nick Hornby captures all the routines. It’s been a very long time since I learn it, however I feel he used to stroll over the identical zebra crossing, dropped a crisp packet or one thing on the way in which to a sport, and we gained, so he repeated it for each sport. It’s a terrific e-book, about soccer and relationships.
The place’s the very best place you’ve ever watched a sport?
Wembley throughout Euro 96 – I managed to get tickets for these superb video games. The quarter-final and semi-final with England have been one thing actually particular.
Who could be your five-a-side crew of politicians?
We consider [ex-Labour prime minister] Clement Attlee performed for Fleet City, so I’ve received to have Attlee in. I’m going to cheat and have Gary Neville [above] as he’s a Labour occasion activist now. I’m placing myself in, plus I’ll have Alison McGovern and Kim Leadbeater, they’re helpful. I reckon that’s an honest blended line-up, even when Attlee’s getting on a bit.
Which participant or supervisor could be a very good politician?
I’d say Arsene Wenger. Politics is about change, and how one can result in change. He was the ‘change’ supervisor. He modified Arsenal and he modified soccer, too. He introduced in strategies and strategy which remodeled that Gunners crew into one of many best membership groups ever, however he additionally modified the character of the sport, in all probability greater than some other supervisor.
Given the selection, would you moderately Arsenal win the Premier League or Labour win the subsequent common election?
[Very long pause] Am I allowed to say each? [FFT: No] Nicely, my first reply’s each! But when I’m pushed to select just one, I’ll should say Labour to win the subsequent common election.