‘I regret forcing my way out of Arsenal – I wanted to be the main man’

Former Arsenal ace Jeremie Aliadiere has expressed regret over forcing his way out of the club, stating he "could have had a much better career".

The former France U21 international, now 40, made over 50 appearances for the north Londoners after graduating from the Gunners' youth academy. But amid a series of untimely injuries netted just one Premier League goal from the bench in a 5-2 mauling of West Bromwich Albion.

Also battling for a starting berth alongside legendary Arsenal strikers Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, Aliadiere spent three fleeting spells away from the club in a bid for regular game time. Injuries hampered his time at Celtic and West Ham yet the Frenchman did run up a series of games for Wolves in the Championship, netting two goals in six months at Molineux.

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Linked with a move to Middlesbrough in January 2007, only for Arsene Wenger to pull the plug when Robin van Persie sustained a broken foot, Aliadiere eventually made the move up north that summer, commanding a £2m fee.

"I think I could have had a much better career," said Aliadiere, reflecting on his career with BoyleSports. "I had injuries, and at times I wouldn’t have made the same choices.

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"It was tough, I came through during that amazing Arsenal era and for me to break through to that team, I would have had to have been exceptional and at the time, perhaps I was not equipped mentally to deal with that, to keep working hard and not get rewarded.

"Then I had a few injuries along the way that didn’t help, and a few loan spells that didn’t help. After that, I got to an age where I got the chance to play for Middlesbrough and be the main guy, and I could not refuse it. Now looking back I probably wouldn’t have made that decision now, I probably would have stayed at Arsenal my whole career and worked hard there."

Aliadiere was presented with the number 10 shirt upon his arrival on Teesside, scoring his first Premier League goal in almost five years in a 4-1 defeat at Manchester United.

His home goals against Wigan and Fulham proved the difference as Boro picked up vital points in the battle against the drop, but the arrival of club record signing Alfonso Alves, plus a red card for slapping Javier Mascherano, saw him eased out of the squad by the end of the season. He did, however, did find the net from the bench in an 8-1 final day mauling of Manchester City.

Also on the books when Boro were relegated the following season, the French forward registered just four goals in the Championship as the club finished eight points outside of the play-offs. He was released at the end of his three-year contract.

He added: "Middlesbrough, Celtic and West Ham on loan didn't work out and I didn’t play as much as expected. At the time I thought they would be good decisions, but then you look back and it didn’t work out and it’s part of learning. Even when I was not playing I was learning, playing with different players.

"But if we all knew what the right choice was, we’d never make a mistake. It’s just leaving Arsenal, I was impatient. I will always be grateful for Middlesbrough, it was a great opportunity, but it was a different style of football and lifestyle.

"Looking back on it I wish I’d kept pushing at Arsenal, but at the time I just wanted to play and be the main man somewhere."


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