Mancini is keeping his fingers crossed for Orient

It will be a proud day for Ben Chorley on Sunday when he lines up against his former club, but one former Orient defender can boast even stronger links between the O’s and Arsenal.

Terry Mancini not only played for the two clubs, but also wore the captain’s armband at Brisbane Road and Highbury.

Mancini is remembered warmly by Gunners and O’s fans alike and was thrilled when he heard that his two former sides had been drawn against each other.

“I was abroad when I heard the news, but I was delighted when I found out,” he said.

“My time at Orient is full of fond memories. I had been released by Watford in 1965, drifted around and went to play in South Africa for a while.

“When I came back to England it was Orient that gave me a second chance and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Mancini more than repaid his debt to the club as he went on to make 188 appearances and led the O’s to the Third Division title in 1970.

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“We had some very good players there then, like Tommy Taylor, Peter Allen and two fantastic wingers in Mark Lazarus and Peter Brabrook,” said Mancini.

“They were in the twilight of their careers, but were a huge asset to us with their ability and experience, especially away from home where they could hold on to the ball and take the pressure off.”

The 1969-70 season was a special one for the club and remains the last year that the O’s secured promotion, via winning the title.

Yet it was also an eventful one for Mancini, who broke a leg in January ending a run of 105 consecutive appearances. However, characteristically he battled back to return to the side in time to lift the title.

“The year we went up was special. It was a great team effort and the atmosphere at Brisbane Road was always great, we used to get 12 or 13,000 most weeks, and they made some noise,” he said. Despite the success in the league, Mancini admitted he would be a little envious of the O’s side on Sunday as a good FA Cup run was something that eluded him during his time at Brisbane Road.

“We never really had any great runs when I was there. There was one big tie that stands out against Nottingham Forest. It was in the Brian Clough era, so they were a great side, but we managed to get a great draw at their place, yet they knocked us out at home.”

After leaving the O’s in 1972, Mancini secured a move to QPR where he spent three years gaining promotion to the First Division, before Arsenal came calling. The move came as a surprise to certain Gunners fans as the defender was by then in the twilight of his career.

However it did not take long for him to win over the Highbury faithful with his whole-hearted approach, and Mancini still remembers that time fondly.

“It was the best club I played for. Everything about it was wonderful – from the stadium to the players, the people, the way it was run and the way you were looked after. It really was a pleasure.

“I absolutely loved it and it was the best time of my career.”

Nowadays Terry can be found jetting around the globe as he runs an events company in the travel industry, which sees him organising corporate events all around the world.

Despite jetting from one country to another, Mancini still finds the time to keep an eye on the O’s results and has been impressed with the recent form.

“I always keep an eye out for the O’s, as I do with all my former clubs, so I’m delighted at the minute as Orient, QPR and Arsenal are all doing well.”

“I would love to think Orient could continue up the table and maybe sneak in the play-offs. But it will be interesting to see how Sunday’s game affects them, it could go two ways, if things go badly it can knock the wind out of your sails, but if things were to go well it could just inspire them for a move up the table.”

Though with somewhat divided loyalties and a realistic view of Orient’s chances of an upset, the ever bubbly Mancini admitted he will have his fingers crossed for the O’s.

“It will be tough, but what I would love to see is the O’s nick a draw. It would be great for the fans and players to have the chance to go back to the Emirates with 60,000 people there, and financially it would mean more money for the club.”