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Charles "Charlie" Nicholas (born 30 December 1961 in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, Scotland is a former professional football player from Scotland. During his career, he played as a striker for Celtic, Arsenal, Aberdeen and Clyde, as well as the Scottish national team. Since retiring Charlie is now working in the media, most recently on the Sky Sports show Soccer Saturday.
The Scottish international arrived at Highbury in June 1983 to a huge fanfare. Nicholas had hit 50 goals for Celtic the previous season, scooping the Footballer and Young Footballer of the Year awards north of the border. Now the 21-year-old was expected to lift the gloom which was starting to descend on Arsenal after four seasons without silverware.
Nicholas started his career with Celtic, making his debut in 1980 at the age of 18. He had a superb 1982–83 season which saw him score a total of 50 goals in all competitions (including 29 in the league) and win the Scottish Footballer of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.
Nicholas had the enviable choice of being offered a contract at Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. He had interviews at both Liverpool and Manchester United. The Scottish players at Liverpool at that time, particularly Graeme Souness, were trying their best to persuade Nicholas to join them.
In total, he played 74 league games in this spell at Celtic, scoring an impressive 48 goals.
Terry Neill signed Nicholas for Arsenal on 22 June 1983, for £800,000. As a 21-year-old at the time of his move to Arsenal, he reportedly became the highest paid footballer in Britain and was described as being "the most exciting player to emerge in Britain since George Best". However, he did not live up to the hype surrounding his move and Neill was sacked as Arsenal's manager in December 1983 following poor results.
Nicholas's lifestyle in the capital was the subject of much tabloid speculation, earning him the nickname "Champagne Charlie". He only scored 11 goals in his first season (although two were against Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby).
Nicholas barely broke double figures in the following seasons, and fell out with Arsenal's new manager George Graham with the latter's arrival in 1986. Despite scoring both goals in Arsenal's 2-1 League Cup final victory over Liverpool in 1987, Nicholas was dropped four games into the start of the 1987–88 season, in favour of Perry Groves as the strike-partner for new signing Alan Smith.
Just months before his goals against Liverpool in the League Cup final, manager Kenny Dalglish had been interested in signing Nicholas for the Anfield club. In all he scored 54 goals in 184 matches for the Gunners. His best season goals wise was the 1983-84 campaign, where he scored 11 times in the league.
Nicholas could not bring the trophies that his new fans craved but 'Champagne Charlie' served up enough flair and flamboyance to keep them entertained.
Nicholas could mesmerise opponents with his extravagant skills but a lack of consistency restricted his influence. His goals tally reflects that, Nicholas only just broke double figures in each of his first three seasons at Highbury. Playing just off the main striker did not help his scoring record either.
'Champagne Charlie' will never be forgotten. for a young Coops in the 1980's I grew up with Charlie being our main Striker. I even remember going into the old Arsenal shop (that shed that you had to point to everything) and buying a photo of Charlie, even got to the point where I had to have my hair in the same style.
While Charlie might not had had the amount of goals to class him as a legend, In my heart hes the reason I am now a life long Arsenal fan, and for this I thank you Charlie.