I’m an Arsenal title winner who was on £25 a week – but now I’m a banker working crazy hours


AS a player, Arsenal fans could bank on home grown former midfielder and front man Martin Hayes.

Now, 22 years after hanging up his boots, it’s the public who can bank on him even more.

Arsenal hero Martin Hayes now works as a banker after leaving footballGetty Images – Getty

Hayes – who was part of Arsenal’s famous top-flight title success in 1989 and their League Cup win in 1987 – has worked in finance for the last eight years and describes it as “a different world to my former life in football”.

The 57-year-old said: “When I was around 28 years of age it started to dawn on me that I would need to sort something out for myself after playing.

“As a footballer you are in a bit of a bubble. I was lucky enough to be able to coach and manage at non-league level but I still had to start over and get a proper job!

“Through a friend, I started working for a Ford franchise selling cars which I really enjoyed. The one thing football gave me was the experience of being able to talk to people.

“I have also helped Arsenal TV as a co-commentator which was a great experience.

“Then eight years ago I started working for a merchant bank, Close Brothers in asset finance. The hours can vary and at times I have to work crazy hours.

“But it’s a world away from what I used to do but they are an outstanding company to work for.”

Hayes admits that growing up he played as much football as he could and developed from the school team, to district and then county sides.

It was at the latter where he was spotted by both Arsenal and Tottenham.

He said: “To start, I had the best opportunities at Tottenham where I played alongside youngsters like Des Walker, Teddy Sheringham and Perry Suckling.

“But everything was a bit disorganised and in the end I switched to Arsenal, Des went to [Nottingham] Forest and Teddy moved to Millwall.

“I was taken on by the Gunners for £25 a week when I left school. They would name only four apprentices per season of which I was lucky enough to be one.


Hayes started out alongside some of Arsenal’s biggest legendsGetty – Contributor

“I came in with Martin Keown, Gus Caesar and another youngster who never made it into the first team.

“When I moved into my second year my money went up to £50 a week, new players arrived – this time Tony Adams, Michael Thomas, Paul Merson, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn.

“This nucleus of talent arrived in future years with the likes of Ray Parlour, Andy Cole and on and on.

“People talk about the Manchester United Class of 92, but the Arsenal kids who came through in the eighties was pretty staggering.

“When George Graham arrived in 1986 as manager he inherited this rich pool of talent and blended the players into a hugely successful era.

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“Originally I didn’t think I was going to be part of George’s plans and he wanted me to join Huddersfield, but I wanted to stay and fight for my place.

Hayes started out at Tottenham with the likes of Teddy SheringhamRichard Pelham / The Sun

“By chance I was sub for a League Cup game, ironically against Huddersfield and came on and scored the goal that got us a replay which we won at Highbury.

“From there I got a few more opportunities and ended up being Arsenal’s top scorer in the 1986-87 season with 24 goals, half of those were from penalties.

“I started taking spot-kicks by default after George asked who wanted to take pens and I stuck my hand up.

“From my highlights at Arsenal, few could top winning the top-flight title in 1989 at Liverpool which was effectively a play-off final between the top two sides in the country.

“To win that game in the manner we did was something I don’t think will ever have the same dramatic last fixture head-to-head.

“Of course, everyone talks about the Sergio Aguero moment for Man City in 2012, but the fixture computer never allows the top two teams to play each other on the last day as we did 34 years ago.

Hayes joined Arsenal at the same time as the likes of Martin KeownGetty

“Once again, I didn’t want to leave Arsenal in 1990 but I had a mortgage and a young family and I wanted to earn more and Celtic gave me that opportunity. Sadly it never worked out there, it wasn’t a good fit for me.

“Even worse, I suffered a broken leg playing in an Old Firm reserve game.

“I switched to Swansea in 1993 and had two wonderful seasons playing some great football under manager Frank Burrows.

“I suffered so few injuries at Arsenal, but had a broken leg at Celtic, then two hernias and a fractured cheekbone in the latter part of my career.

“After playing in the lower leagues, I knew I had to think of doing something else as far as earning a living, so I started coaching and managing in non-league.

“It niggles me that people say players of my era would struggle playing today with how football has changed.

“I’m more inclined to think it’s the opposite. I think I could adapt to playing on these pitches today and being one of five subs rather than the only sub.

“I think today’s players may struggle with our pitches and refs who allowed two of three very dodgy tackles before even talking to defenders. Football is so different today.

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“The way I look at it is that like most of the big clubs today, Arsenal used to be a football club that did a little bit of business and over the last 40 years it has now become a club that is a huge business that does a little bit of football!.

“The chance to reflect on my football career is lovely looking back. I still think I underachieved. I  do have a few regrets.

“It’s strange but one season I took 15 penalties for Arsenal and scored 12 of them, which I still think is some sort of record for the club from the spot in a season.

“Yet typically 40 years later I can still see the three I missed!”

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