What brings so many Spurs and Arsenal players to Hampstead?
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Olivier Giroud and Hugo Lloris aren’t the only footballing rivals to abide by the old adage of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. The streets in Hampstead and its surrounds are heaving with, mostly European football stars who may share a national team but within the Premier League are not on speaking terms.
Ahead of the north London derby, we ask what draws these players to the area and find out who lives there
For the French players there’s an instant community in place and Arsenal and Hampstead have a well-established French connection since Henry and Vieira bought in the area back in 2001, retaining their footholds through transfers and retirement.
The Gallic contingent are rapidly being caught up with by members of the Belgian national team, many of whom play for Spurs. However, when it comes to relocating country, as the close quarters of Giroud and Lloris shows, sometimes national allegiances are stronger than those in the Premier Leage.
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Jan Vertongen, who lives in Belsize Park, has acknowledged the cross-team prevalence of footballers in the streets of Hampstead. Speaking in 2013 he said: “It’s funny. A lot of players live there [in Hampstead] so sometimes you see them. But we live in peace.”
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Players often don’t sell their Hampstead houses even after they transfer to clubs out of London or retire. The area’s appeal for WAGs should not be underestimated in this respect. Hampstead is also hugely child-friendly, with excellent schools catering for footballers’ children.
Robert Kramer of Glentree Estates, who has dealt with many re-locating footballers over the years, explains: “It’s equidistant between their training ground and the stadium. They like the proximity to London and the Heath.
“A lot of them like Hampstead because it’s very cosmopolitan and several of them have kids so they love the excellent schools in the area. For the older ones it’s always the schools.”
James Morton of Benham & Reeves agrees: “If they’ve got a young family then, like any other wealthy family, they’re going to be attracted by the excellent schools.”
Safe and sound
Another major draw to the area is the private security on many of the streets, a huge plus to players who are not only wealthy, but can be the objects of obsessive attention from football fans.
Morton explains: “It’s a safe and discrete area. In some cases there are guards at the top of the road like on Courtenay and Compton Avenues, and on West Heath Road there are also gates and private security. At the Mount Vernon development, where some of the Spice Girls had penthouses there are gates on the front, underground parking and a leisure centre.
“Not only do they not want to be burgled – and clever burglars do keep an eye out for away fixtures – but obviously there’s the potential for some weird stalker.”
And while many players still rent, despite their huge salaries, they often get a taste for the area and end up buying and staying put.
As Kramer says: “A lot of the old guard still live round here, even when they’ve retired. They stay so they obviously like it.”
Perhaps proof that a little neighbourhood rivalry can be more enjoyable when it’s about more than merely keeping up with the Joneses.