Former 18 June 2021, 10:00

Mark Hateley: "Wenger was a man with a mission"

Mark Hateley: "Wenger was a man with a mission"
In an exclusive interview with AS Monaco, English striker Mark Hateley spoke about winning honours at the Stade Louis II, being managed by Arsene Wenger, and playing alongside international teammate Glenn Hoddle.

Joining us from his home in England, Mark Hateley spoke with against a backdrop of some of the most iconic match-worn shirts you could ever wish to see.

Next to the historic AC Milan jersey, which he wore while scoring a famous towering header against Inter Milan at the San Siro, his England and Glasgow Rangers shirts hang proudly, hinting he may have more than a passing interest in the upcoming England vs Scotland clash in Euro 2020 this summer!

However, it’s the red and white jersey that really catches our interest, and is the subject of today’s discussion, starting with the forward’s first impressions of the young French manager that brought him to Monaco, Arsene Wenger.

Starting on the front foot with a new manager:

“I was still a young man learning the game and wanting to win things. He was desperate to win stuff and prove himself.” The way Mark describes it, the pair seemed like a match made in heaven. The striker signed in the summer of 1987 from AC Milan to help AS Monaco clinch a league title after a six-year wait. Describing his first impressions of Wenger, Hateley spoke about the manager’s dedication and determination to win a title in his first season with the Les Monégasques: “He was a man with a mission. I liked Arsene Wenger as soon as I met him, his enthusiasm was overflowing.”

That attitude was matched in equal measure by Hateley, whose dedication helped the team finish six points ahead of second-placed Bordeaux that season – something that meant a great deal to the young centre-forward, “Winning your first championship is always very special, especially given how competitive the league was at the time.”

“The best team will always win the league”

It was a campaign which saw AS Monaco power to the league title with a relentless winning attitude that flowed right through the squad. With Jean-Luc Ettori (“great goalkeeper!”) between the sticks, and Patrick Battiston and Rémi Vogel giving the team a rigid spine in defence, Wenger’s side were doggedly hard to beat.

Claude Puel’s “three lungs”, as Mark puts it, complemented Glenn Hoddle’s vision in the middle of the park, which enabled the team to be quick in transition, breaking through the lines and ultimately helping the English forward score 14 times on the way to lifting the title. “The best team will always win the league” Mark summarised.

The Hoddle & Hateley partnership

Despite having a wealth of experience under his belt already, having played in both Italy and for his country, the opportunity to make a fresh start in a new country was incredibly exciting for the striker. It wasn’t until fellow countryman Glenn Hoddle arrived, however, that things really got going.

The creative midfielder quickly embedded himself in the team, dazzling fans with his passing vision and wonder goals. “Glenn was the icing on the cake for me, he could do anything!”

Though it wasn’t just on the pitch where their pairing took off: “I knew Glenn from his England days; it was ideal for him to have another English family around him.” It didn’t take long for the English duo to introduce their French teammates to one of their favourite pastimes: a post-match beer after a win. Although, Hateley admits they stopped short of reciprocating with a post-match cigarette – very much part of the custom in Monaco in those days.

Mark did however give a glimpse as to how well Hoddle assimilated with French football on the pitch: “Most European teams would look to that sort of player and build a team around him… [Michel] Platini came to watch us and he did a piece in the paper saying that if [Hoddle] had been born French, he’d have played 150 games for France!”

Injury woes

After the roaring success of the first campaign, Mark’s progress in the red and white jersey was cut short by a devastating injury when he clashed with the opposing keeper in a European game with Galatasaray. With what would soon be revealed as a double dislocation of his ankle, the forward played on for 10 minutes before finally receiving treatment during the interval. It was only when medical staff removed his ankle strapping that the seriousness of the injury revealed itself: “The foot went black from the knee down…Wenger was nearly sick when he saw it!”.

Unfortunately, that was just the start of a long uphill struggle for Mark: “It was operation, rehab, operation, rehab. It just sends you mad.” After battling back to fitness, Mark was offered the opportunity to link up with Graham Souness at Glasgow Rangers after his third season in Monaco. The Englishman returned to the UK and as a testament to his professionalism and dedication, came back even stronger post-injury, enjoying huge success at the Scottish club, winning 11 major honours following his £1m transfer from the Ligue 1 club.

Hateley enjoyed success throughout his career, as recounted in his upcoming autobiography ‘Hitting the Mark’, but he remembers his time in the red and white shirt most fondly. “It was a fantastic achievement. It’s always very special to win your first championship; some great players never win a championship”.

Watch our full discussion with Mark Hateley below: