Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was ‘lovesick’ when he first moved to London but fell madly in love with Cheryl Plaza, who is eight years his senior, and they have been together ever since
When Patrick Vieira first moved to Arsenal he was ‘miserable’ and wanted to leave – but that all changed when he met the love of his life.
The Frenchman went on to become one of the greatest players in Arsenal’s history and was part of the Invincibles team, but it all could have been very different.
Last August, his former Arsenal teammate Ray Parlour explained that Vieira was feeling ‘lovesick’ when he first moved to London.
“He was a bit miserable first time he turned up because it is difficult for foreign guys coming into a different dressing room and I think his girlfriend was in France so he was a bit lovesick,” Parloud told Talk Sport.
“I used to say to him, ‘Come on Patrick liven up, you’re in London now, you can have a much better time’, he split up with his girlfriend.”
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Vieira attracted a lot of interest from other clubs looking to sign him up – and a series of high-profile bust-ups with referees looked to be pushing him out the door.
However, the midfielder refused to pach his boots and quit English football after falling madly in love with Cheryl Plaza.
Ray added: “After that he loved London, he turned around overnight when he met his new girlfriend in London, but he was a great lad.”
Patrick was 24-years-old when he met Cheryl, who is eight years his senior and had been married twice before.
She wed a grocer’s son a decade before meeting the footballer but their marriage broke down after a few years.
Then she tied the knot with a telecoms engineer in 1995 and they lived in East London but after three years they called time on their marriage.
Getty Images Europe)
But Vieira proved to be the love of her life, with one of his friends saying in 2020: “They are deeply in love. Cheryl is a beautiful girl and Patrick is head-over-heels.”
He very quickly introduced Cheryl, who is known to her friends as Cherie, to his mother Rose and the rest of his family in Paris, as well as his team-mates and their wives and girlfriends.
Cheryl gave up her secretarial job at the Treasury in London to enjoy a luxury lifestyle while living with Vieira in his mansion in the upmarket village of Arkley, Hertfordshire.
The couple went to great lengths to keep Cheryl’s identity a secret and Vieira had never named her or talked of his English love before their relationship was revealed in the press.
When the couple were photographed together as the French national team displayed their Euro 2000 trophy in Paris in July, Patrick refused to name his companion.
Back in 2020, a friend said: “She has been one of the main reasons he has not given up at Arsenal, despite his feeling that he is victimised by Premiership referees.”
She even took an intensive course in french and would catch a train to London to study at the Berlitz language school while her man was training.
The couple have since got married and have a daughter together.
Vieira may find himself in hot water after an incident at the end of last night’s match between his Crystal Palace side and Everton.
With the Toffees coming back from 0-2 down to win the match 3-2 in a remarkable turnaround that secured their place in the Premier League next season, fans stormed onto the pitch at Goodison Park.
However, as was the case during the Championship play-off semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United on Tuesday, some supporters let themselves down as celebrations spilled over onto the pitch.
A clip on Sky Sports showed Vieira, who was making his way across the pitch to the dressing rooms, being goaded by a fan which resulted in him attempting to kick his antagoniser.
Many sympathised with the Arsenal legend, who when asked about the incident in his post-match press conference said: “I do not having anything to say about that.”
On Friday morning, the Football Association opened an investigation into the incident and Mirror Football understands Everton are assisting Merseyside Police in their own investigation.
Everton manager Frank Lampard said: “I feel for Patrick. I didn’t get him at the end. I would have said: ‘Come in with us,’ although he might not have wanted that. Of course, he ran 80 yards across the pitch and it’s not easy.”
The Toffees boss also defended the right of supporters to invade the pitch “as long as they behave”, adding: “It was [the] pure elation of fans who have come on the pitch after avoiding relegation. If it is done in the right way, let them stay on the pitch, let them have their moment. As long as they behave, no problem.”
It comes during a week that has been littered with disgraceful incidents during pitch invasions, which started with Sheffield United star Billy Sharp being headbutted by a Nottingham Forest fan after their play-off semi-final defeat on Tuesday.
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