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Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin has revealed his admiration for troubled former
Arsenal forward Andrei Arshavin has revealed his admiration for troubled former English international Paul Gascoigne, as well as his reasons for studying English.

Gascoigne, more commonly known as Gazza, is a former Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Newcastle and Rangers midfielder since known for his alcohol and mental health problems. Frequently cited as one of the most talented players of his generation, Gascoigne, 41, finished his career in 2004 after short spells in China and non-league English soccer.

"I used to really like Paul Gascoigne," Arshavin told the Sport Express daily. "Both on the field and off it he was an unconventional figure. He was always himself, and in my opinion that is extremely important in life."

The Russian also said that his image of England before his move was largely shaped by Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, which have always been highly popular in Russia.

"My basic perception of England was formed, I suppose, thanks to the works of Conan Doyle. As I understand, certain traditions still have not changed. I also knew a few Shakespeare sonnets, but they are from an even longer time ago," he also said.

He also told the paper that he had decided to learn English even before there was any talk of a move to the country.

"If you think I just learnt English because of the transfer, you are wrong. I started studying about two years ago, before there were any plans as regards England. I was already thinking though about a move to Europe, and English comes in handy everywhere. But even if I had never left, knowledge of a foreign language is always useful," he went on.

"I had a very good teacher. Everyone tells me that I construct phrases correctly. I have an accent, of course, and I don't know enough words, but my very construction of sentences surprises the English - they have gotten out of the habit of doing the same themselves, and simplify their speech," he noted.

Arsenal, who have drawn their last four English Premier League games 0-0 and are in danger of missing out on a 2009/10 Champions league place, travel to bottom club West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday evening. The match will be Arshavin's third for Arsenal.


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