Arsenal History: Peter Marinello – The New George Best

Peter Marinello signed for Arsenal in January 1970, for a club record £100,000. The best part of three years later this feature appeared in the programme for Arsenal v Norwich on 21 November 1972, a League Cup Fifth Round match. By that time Marinello had already made 11 league appearances that season, equalling the total he’d managed in the previous two seasons combined.

The programme editor felt confident enough by this run in the team to declare that “What we now know of him, tells us that he ought to be in the Arsenal side for a very long time to come”. At the end of the same season Marinello was sold to Portsmouth for the same fee Arsenal had paid. In total he made just 38 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 3 goals – including one on his debut against Man Utd.

With the benefit of hindsight, the programme tells us that after that debut, and with the record fee and a reputation already built up at Hibernian, Marinello “was immediately acclaimed and built up far beyond what we, and he, knew were his capabilities at the time, to Peter’s embarrassment, and our regret”. This strikes me as fitting the facts to events after they’d happened! As now, Arsenal in 1970 were not likely to break their transfer record for a half-finished item. The feature goes on to claim, rather damningly, that not only was Marinello physically pathetic when he arrived in England, but he had to basically be taught everything about how to play in a team!

Unfortunately I don’t have a programme from 1970 to compare, but I doubt the announcement of Marinello’s arrival pointed any of this out, or said, ‘give it three years and he’ll probably be making a contribution. It will be like a new signing’!

As an aside, Marinello left when his contract ran out and he couldn’t agree terms on a new one. By this time Arsenal had broken their transfer record again to sign Alan Ball, and were known to be paying the World Cup Winner far more than the rest of the team. In those days of course clubs held the registration of players even when contracts had ended, so could still receive a transfer fee.

Click to enlarge and read the whole feature.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5

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2 thoughts on “Arsenal History: Peter Marinello – The New George Best

  1. Thanks for posting this. I just watched the video on youtube of the Arsenal – Ajax 1972 game and was completely stunned by the player Marinello, whom I have never heard of before – and googled your article, the best among all of the others. What shocked me having watched the game, was the Austrian commentator who continuously picked on Marinello for holding the ball for too long, and after the player had lost the ball in 60th minute, he went as far as rating his performance as a “big disappointment”. The programme you posted completes the picture of the sad 70´s view of what makes a good footballer – his own club claims a bit confusingly that “while his acceleration and ball skills are superb, he needs to learn to give the ball away immediately to a team mate”.
    A pity that this extremely talented guy had not been born 40 years later. I am convinced that in today´s football, with the right support on and off the pitch, he would end up playing for Real Madrid or FC Barcelona.

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