Jay Bothroyd's former Arsenal youth team-mate, David Noble, once headbutted him in the midst of a dressing room bust-up and lost hearing in one of his ears for three weeks.
The pair, who were playing alongside the likes of Jermaine Pennant and Steve Sidwell in the youth ranks in north London, became embroiled in a heated spat which led to the two trading blows. Noble spoke on the The Magic Sponge podcast and explained that an argument over where he could hang his clothes led to him headbutting Bothroyd.
"Everyone was a winner – there was fisticuffs every other day, people arguing left, right and centre," Noble said. "We had Fulham away, I’d taken my top off, put it on a peg, and gone out to look at the pitch. As I’ve come back in, Jay’s clothes are on the peg – I’ve gone 'I’m sitting there, Jay', took his off and put mine on.
"He’s come over, took mine off and put his on – now everyone’s looking and it’s becoming a scene. We’re arguing and he's huge, he was six foot five at 17 or 18, and we're squaring up over whose tracksuit is going on which peg.
"I’ve just gone 'bomp,' a little headbutt in his mouth, he’s gone back, people have gone in the way, but his arms are seven foot long and people are in the way but he's swung it around them and clumped me in the ear. I could not hear out my ear for about three weeks.
"Don Givens, who was the manager at the time, had to take me next door, where I got changed with just me and him, this was before a youth team game and everyone else was getting changed in there."
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Bothroyd went out in that game and apparently put in a solid performance, with Noble admitting he believes the striker was spurred on by the pre-game fisticuffs. "We've gone out a little frosty, then it was fine," Noble added.
"We won 1-0, Jay was on fire and I played well – I can't hear, unless someone on the left-wing was calling me, I couldn't hear them. Jay would be the first to tell you he could go missing in those games or just not try as hard but he's flying about in this game, putting people under pressure, running here, tackling there, jumping up and winning headers, the lot.
"After the game, Don Givens said to me, ‘I’m not saying nut him every game, but get him going!"
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