Charlie Nicholas

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For the Hull and Darlington forward, see Charlie Nicklas.
Charlie Nicholas
Personal information
Full name Charles Nicholas
Date of birth (1961-12-30) 30 December 1961 (age 53)
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1980–1983 Celtic 74 (48)
1983–1987 Arsenal 184 (54)
1987–1990 Aberdeen 78 (30)
1990–1995 Celtic 114 (37)
1995–1996 Clyde 31 (5)
Total 481 (184)
National team
1983–1989 Scotland 20 (5)
1990 Scottish League XI 1 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Charles "Charlie" Nicholas (born 30 December 1961 in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, Scotland[1]) is a former professional football player from Scotland. During his career, he played as a striker for Celtic, Arsenal, Aberdeen and Clyde, as well as the Scottish national team. Since retiring he has worked in the media, most recently on the Sky Sports show Soccer Saturday.

Club career[edit]


Nicholas started his career with Celtic, making his debut in 1980 at the age of 18. He had a superb 1982–83 season which saw him score a total of 50 goals in all competitions (including 29 in the league) and win the Scottish Footballer of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards.

Nicholas had the enviable choice of being offered a contract at Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. He had interviews at both Liverpool and Manchester United. The Scottish players at Liverpool at that time, particularly Graeme Souness, were trying their best to persuade Nicholas to join them.

In total, he played 74 league games in this spell at Celtic, scoring an impressive 48 goals.[5]


Terry Neill signed Nicholas for Arsenal on 22 June 1983, for £800,000. As a 21-year-old at the time of his move to Arsenal, he reportedly became the highest paid footballer in Britain and was described as being "the most exciting player to emerge in Britain since George Best".[2] However, he did not live up to the hype surrounding his move;[3] and Neill was sacked as Arsenal's manager in December 1983 following poor results.[4]

Nicholas's lifestyle in the capital was the subject of much tabloid speculation, earning him the nickname "Champagne Charlie".[5] He only scored 11 goals in his first season (although two were against Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby).

Nicholas barely broke double figures in the following seasons,[6] and fell out with Arsenal's new manager George Graham with the latter's arrival in 1986.[7] Despite scoring both goals in Arsenal's 2-1 League Cup final victory over Liverpool in 1987, Nicholas was dropped four games into the start of the 1987–88 season, in favour of Perry Groves as the strike-partner for new signing Alan Smith.

Just months before his goals against Liverpool in the League Cup final, manager Kenny Dalglish had been interested in signing Nicholas for the Anfield club.[8]

In all he scored 54 goals in 184 matches for the Gunners. His best season goals wise was the 1983-84 campaign, where he scored 11 times in the league.[9]

In November 1984, while at Arsenal, Nicholas was given a second drink-driving ban in the space of two years, after admitting driving with excess alcohol.[10]


Nicholas was sold to Aberdeen in January 1988 for £400,000,[11]

After a slow start at Pittodrie (three goals in 16 league games in the 1987-88 season), he rediscovered his form and scored 16 league goals in the 1988-89 season, netting a further 11 league goals in 1989–90 and also winning the SFA Cup, before returning to Celtic in August 1990. He had played 75 league games for the Dons in two and a half years, scoring 30 goals.[6]

Return to Celtic[edit]

His comeback season at Parkhead was something of a disappointment as he played just 14 games and scored six goals in the league, but was much better in 1991–92 with 21 league goals, though once again Celtic failed to win any silverware. He lost his place in the team halfway through 1992–93 as Celtic bought Frank McAvennie, but regained his place the following season as McAvennie fell out of favour and was eventually discarded. However, his final season at the club was a disappointment as he played in just 12 out of 36 league games and failed to score a single goal.


In July 1995, after five years back at Celtic (during which time he had played 114 league games and scored 37 league goals) he left on a free transfer to join Clyde, where he spent one season and scored five times in 31 league games before retiring as a player.[7]

International career[edit]

Nicholas was first capped by Scotland at senior level on 30 March 1983, near the end of his first spell at Celtic. He was on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw with Switzerland at Hampden Park. He was in Scotland's squad for the 1986 World Cup, playing in the group matches against Denmark and Uruguay. He won the last of his 20 senior caps for Scotland on 26 April 1989 in a 2-1 win over Cyprus at Hampden Park. The last of his five goals for Scotland had come on 17 October 1984 in a 3-0 win over Iceland at Hampden Park early in the World Cup qualifying stages.[12]

Career after retirement[edit]

Nicholas now works as a pundit on the Sky Sports News programme Soccer Saturday and Sky Sports' coverage of the Scottish Premier League Scottish Cup and Scotland Internationals. He is also a part-time newspaper columnist. In April 2010 Nicholas criticised Celtic's majority shareholder Dermot Desmond. He accused Desmond and the board of presiding over the worst Celtic squad he had ever seen. Nicholas criticised Desmond's handling of the club, accusing him of treating the Glasgow club like "a toy", and failing to invest properly in the playing staff.[13]