Arsenal icon says playing at White Hart Lane was ‘unbearable’ thanks to ‘crazy’ Tottenham fans

The Premier League winners with Chelsea played at Highbury and the Emirates. Ex-Spurs defender was speaking ahead of North London Derby this weekend.

It’s hard to believe that it has been over five years since Tottenham Hotspur last played at White Hart Lane before their brief tenancy at Wembley and eventual move to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Like their North London rivals, Arsenal also moved homes in the not so distant past and one former Gunners and Spurs player has opened up on his experiences of playing at the old grounds and at the Emirates.

William Gallas, who played for the Gunners between 2006 and 2010 then Spurs between 2010 and 2013, has described the atmosphere at White Hart Lane as ‘unbearable’ when on the opposing side.

Speaking to Genting Casino, Gallas said: “When you played against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, the fans were crazy.

“I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because it’s been a long time since they won the league so there’s a spirit to win that competition and it’s been a long time.

“I remember when I used to go there I would feel the fans, there was a spirit to beat us.

“With Arsenal, when I was playing at Highbury, and it was the same when I was at Chelsea, to go there was crazy as well.

“Since the move to the Emirates, maybe because of the stadium, it’s bigger and the fans are a little bit far from the pitch. Maybe you can’t have the same feeling, but I would say White Hart Lane - It was just unbearable when I used to go.

“It was just wow, their fans were crazy. As a player, you want to play in that kind of game.

“You can feel the hunger from the fans, and you want your teammates to fight for the ball, challenge, to be strong in the tackle but it has changed a little bit, it’s not like when I played where I’d say it was crazier.”

The defender, a Premier League winner with Chelsea before his move to the Gunners, also spoke about his own experiences in the North London derby ahead of the big match this weekend.

“The last few years, I’ve found the derby has not been the same as maybe 20-30 years ago,” said Gallas.

“It looks like all the players know each other. When I said ‘fight’, I meant in the right way, when you go on the pitch, even if you know some players on the opposite team, when you are on the pitch, they are not your friend anymore and you have to represent your shirt.

“In the big challenges, the 50/50s, you have to win them and be strong.

“Sometimes there are arguments on the pitch, that’s what I want to see.

“I used to watch the big London derby from France, and there was always fighting, arguments and when I went there it was the same. But slowly, slowly it stopped.”