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#CelebrityFans #Interview #FiveMinutesWith

Five minutes with... Nihal Arthanayake

Wed 06 April 2022, 10:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Nihal Arthanayake, 50, is an award-winning presenter and one of the most respected interviewers around, turning his hand to all sorts of topics daily on his afternoon show on BBC Radio 5 Live. He's also a lifelong Spurs fan who just happened to go to the same school as Glenn Hoddle...

How are you today?

Nihal: "I'm good. It's such a weird time at the moment, because of what is going on in the world, you almost feel guilty at times. So, yes, I'm good, but I also feel blessed."

What is your Spurs story, Nihal?

Nihal: "When I was 11 years old, I moved from a little Primary School to a Secondary School called Burnt Mill in Harlow, Essex. At the time, one of the boys, I think he was in fifth year, in old money, was Carl Hoddle. He had a brother, Glenn. Sadly, Carl is no longer with us. His elder brother was a beast with a football. This was the early 1980s, back-to-back FA Cups, and the stars aligned for me. Harlow is as Spurs as you can get. It wasn't a difficult decision to make. It was Glenn Hoddle. So much so, when I did Celebrity Mastermind, that was my subject, Lord Glenn of Hoddle."

Years later, you interviewed Glenn - what was that like?

Nihal: "There are two people who I've interviewed where, basically, for the first five minutes, I'm just saying, 'I love you...' Of all the Spurs people I've interviewed, like Harry Kane for instance, and I've met Ricky Villa, Garth Crooks, Ossie Ardiles, but I'd never met Glenn, and the chance to interview him... it's insane what he means to me. The other person like that was Suggs, from Madness. The first album I ever bought was a Madness album. Thinking back to the 12-year-old me, to then interview Glenn Hoddle and Suggs, that's quite a moment."

Can you remember your first away trip with Spurs?

Nihal: "I never really went to away games as a kid. Coming from an Asian family, it was a little difficult for my dad back then. Remember, this was the 1980s we're talking about. The most memorable was with my son, United away, Old Trafford, August 2018, we're in the away end and we won 3-0. It was unbelievable. The season before that at Old Trafford, my son, at 10, was a mascot, and led the Spurs team out. What an experience."

Do you have any Spurs superstitions?

Nihal: "It's not a superstition, as such, but I once gave my son my card to go and get something for himself from the Spurs Shop. He came back with one of the retro Holsten shirts for me! He didn't buy himself anything, but bought me that. I love wearing that shirt, I do like to try and wear that for matches."

Who is your Spurs hero?

Nihal: "Without question, Glenn Hoddle. But there is also something about Ledley King. He was a general, a soldier. He couldn't train later in his career, the pain he went through to play. You can't deny what that guy did for Spurs. Also, he's got one of the best songs, ever..."

You've done so brilliantly in your career - what advice would you give to kids who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Nihal: "Stay curious about the world. Ask questions. You don't have to fill up the space with your own opinions. Ask questions. That's how you get better, by observing. We live in a world now where, through social media, you're encouraged to give opinions. It's always about you, but you won't evolve like that. You evolve by trying to find out about other people, other experiences. That's definitely what has not just kept me in jobs, but those jobs have become bigger and bigger and bigger. I started as a specialist Radio 1 DJ, middle of the night on a Friday, 2am-4am, now I'm in broad daylight, 1pm-4pm, four days a week, interviewing some of the biggest names out there, from Stormzy to Ed Sheeran, Sir Billy Connolly, Harry Kane, Eric Cantona... the list is endless. And that's because I'm curious. I want to ask questions and to know about people. Keep doing that."

Finally, what are you up to for the rest of the day, Nihal?

Nihal: "I'm going to do my radio show, that starts at 1pm, we've got Martin Lewis on, he's on every Wednesday. Then I'm interviewing two people... it's a sad story, her brother was stabbed to death, it's a documentary on Channel 4 called Killed by a Rich Kid, Yousef Makki is the boy, I'm interviewing his sister, Jade. Then it's comedy and Will Smith and Chris Rock. Then I'll go home and do a Penguin Podcast with an author, Hanif Abdurraqib. Then I'll continue finishing my own book, which comes out in August, called Let's Talk, it's about how to have better conversations. I've written it, now it's about edits and lawyers. Yep, quite a lot on!"

You can find Nihal on BBC Radio 5 Live, Monday-Thursday, 1pm-4pm. His book, 'Let's Talk', is scheduled for release on 18 August.

@TherealNihal

We spoke to Nihal on Wednesday 30 March...