Martin Keown opens up on using dark arts to rattle players

Martin Keown was known for his tenacity and physicality, qualities that made him one of the toughest defenders in England. Many strikers found facing him to be a daunting challenge and were wary of engaging in a physical battle.

The term “dark arts” in football often refers to the use of clever and sometimes less-than-ethical tactics to gain an advantage on the pitch.

Keown’s ability to intimidate and outwit strikers contributed to his success as a defender, and it’s a part of the game that has been embraced by many top defenders throughout football history.

Speaking about this aspect of his game, Keown said, as quoted by the Daily Mail:

‘I was a contact defender so I was going to make that first contact and it was about winning that battle.

‘It’s a shame we don’t ever see a montage of clearances, headers and tackles but 90 per cent of players I played against were rattled by it (the dark arts).

‘I had a little book and I knew which characters would just crumble. Some were really up for it, like Mark Hughes, who was brilliant because you could clout him, hit him and he would stand there.

‘And he wasn’t going to fall over like perhaps Ruud van Nistelrooy did, but I preferred a player who would stand up and be physical.

Just Arsenal Opinion

Defenders come up against different types of strikers and sometimes need the dark arts to prevail.

Defending seems much easier now as referees frown at an unnecessarily physical approach, but back then, anyone could be rough and tough on an opponent and may not be booked.

We may not have a defender as physical as Keown was, but we have some top players in our defence now.

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