Celtic and Arsenal great Charlie Nicholas – best known for his starring role in our Pundits series – joined the lads on From The Horse’s Mouth this week to reminisce about the good the bad and the ugly from his playing days.
Nicholas earned the nickname ‘Champagne Charlie’ during his hay day – but he insists that was for his performances on the pitch rather than actions off it. In the early days at least.
And Charlie explained to Paddy and Ruby how life changed when he swapped £90-a-week at Celtic for a bumper paypacket at Arsenal and how life really got interesting when he met the legendary George Best. You can listen to Charlie’s interview in full on the latest From The Horse’s Mouth podcast below or wherever you get your podcasts from.
“When I went to Arsenal, I ended up on £100,000 a year,” Nicholas explained on From The Horse’s Mouth, “Life changed a bit, and then I was introduced to the one and only George Best. Life became seriously interesting there as a young single guy. Champagne was definitely on the list, and so were a lot of other bad habits.
“I think I would have been probably exposed quite badly if there had been smartphones around back then. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that because of, as you know, mobile phones and whatever gadgets they can get.
“Yes, absolutely. No doubt. I could never have lived the way I did then.
“I used to get into – George Best had a share in a pub in London called Blondes believe it or not. I know that will surprise you. It was two guys from Manchester. Bestie used to get paid £500 a day to go in there, because the clientele, especially females that were coming in, would more than pay for George’s time in there. You can imagine the media just having a frenzy in there with the mobile phones and just watching George.
“George was a shy man and a very humble guy, but [they] would expose you for whatever way that you can.”
Heading to London at a young age is full of potential traps but Charlie fell into an unlikely one – agreeing to model in his underwear for £10,000. It’s fair to say his biggest regret is not having an agent to steer him away from commercial and image decisions like that which still haunts him.
“In London it was a vast world,” He continued, “It was a whole new world. They were throwing £10,000 at you for doing adverts wearing skimpy underwear and different things. What the hell did I know? I didn’t have an agent.
“I didn’t have any understanding of life. I took the agenda and just went for it. I didn’t really have any experience. I didn’t have any guidance. It was fun. It was stupid.
“Lots of different things that they keep you right when you’re older – my daughters keep reminding me of the embarrassment that I put them to. But I had a great time. I don’t deny that!”
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