Ian Wright is "not a normal human" says former Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Petit

Emmanuel Petit has described why unusual characters in the Arsenal side of 1997/98 should never have won a domestic double – singling out his friend and former colleague Ian Wright.

The former France midfielder, who won the World Cup after picking up Premier League and FA Cup glory with the Gunners, enjoyed his time at Highbury and recently stated he never should’ve left.

Following an ill-fated spell with Barcelona, Petit returned to England with Chelsea before calling time on his playing career in 2004.

The 50-year-old has now discussed his time playing in north London, picking out the characters of Wright, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Ray Parlour as a reason for the success.

Petit, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Crystal Palace v Chelsea, said: “When I talk to Ian Wright, I mean he's not normal. He's not a normal human being!

“It's the same with Tony Adams, even Dennis Bergkamp. The crazy thing about our team is that when you looked at us individually, we should have never won the double, because we were so different from each other, but it worked because we were a great bunch of friends.

“We respected each other; it wasn't that it was the Dutch players in one corner, the French in another and the English in another; we mixed together all the time and we all became best friends.

“Ray Parlour was so, so funny. The transition was great because the English players were so welcoming with us.

“They could see straight away that all the foreign players were not only trying to adapt to English football, but we were also making an effort to understand the culture of the country and the club.

“That means we tried to learn English as soon as possible, we studied the history and the tradition of the club and its supporters. Also we knew we had to adapt ourselves.

“I never forgot that I was a foreigner in another country and therefore it is my responsibility to learn and understand the culture of that country. I was just a guest in England, and to be honest with you I think that's how everyone should think.”

Petit went on to pick out Chelsea’s Thiago Silva as someone who might benefit from learning fluent English, with his own experience improving after doing so.

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  • He added: “Every foreign player tried to speak English as much as possible in the dressing room. When you play on the pitch, language and communication is so important, so we had to learn certain football phrases very quickly.

    “It's something I think Chelsea have to do with their current group of players because of the amount of foreigners that joined in the summer – especially in defence with Thiago Silva.

    “You only have a couple of seconds to communicate the right thing with your teammates and I wonder whether Thiago has struggled this season with that side of the game.”

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