FLASHBACK: First Arsenal team of the Millennium
Petit scores Arsenal’s only goal of the match
With 2010 staring silently from the horizon, The Spoiler has taken the opportunity to celebrate some of the fine football teams that lined up for matches right at the start of this new Millennium.
Today it’s the turn of Arsenal, who visited Hillsborough in on 3rd January 2000, to draw 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday. That day, they looked exactly like this:
Goalkeeper, David Seaman
Arsenal’s number one for thirteen years, Seaman was already ten years in by the dawn of the Millennium, and still pretty good. This was, of course, two years before he made a total mess of his England career, then eventually found himself at Man City in 2003. An Arsenal legend, he is now famous for being a beautiful ice skater.
Right Back, Oleg Luzhny
Oleg Luzhny – so-named because he is Ukranian – could never quite squeeze himself from under the deep shadow cast by Lee Dixon, who was Arsenal’s most treasured blondie at right back for so long. Hence, in 2003, he decided that enough was enough, and went off to Wolves for about six games. Now works as the assistant coach at Dynamo Kiev.
Centre Back, Tony Adams
In a similar manner to Ryan Giggs, Tony Adams made his Arsenal debut at 17 and never played for another club. The similarities pretty much end there, although Adams was the backbone of the club for the best part of twenty years, during which time he battled with the grog, and even spent a few months in the slammer for his troubles. He retired in 2002, and his famous Number 6 jersey was eventually passed on to Philippe Senderos. Whoops.
Centre Back, Gilles Grimandi
One of Wenger’s favourites during his Monaco days, Grimandi proved something of the plug-filler at Arsenal – filling in at centre back, right back, in the midfield. Anywhere really. Everyone totally loved him. Hence why he now works for Arsenal as a scout.
Left Back, Sylvinho
In a move known as “The Classic Emmanuel Petit”, Sylvinho played for both Arsenal and Barcelona. During his brief stint at the London club, he stamped his authority by knocking Nigel Winterburn into the dugout. Only to be ousted a year later when Ashley Cole hit the scene. Gutted. Now at Man City being led a merry dance by Aaron Lennon in doomed matches against Spurs.
Right Midfield, Freddie Ljungberg
Now a much celebrated underpants model, people shouldn’t forget that Freddie Ljungberg was also quite the footballer on his day. A wonderful player between 1998 and 2007, he scored lots of important goals, most of them whilst sporting ridiculous multi-coloured hair. Can now be found enjoying frappuccinos in America.
Centre Midfield, Patrick Vieira
In what proved to be a fantastic bit of business, Wenger signed Vieira from AC Milan in 1996 for just £3.5 million. He went on to become one of the best midfielders in the game, and took over the captaincy of the club once Tony Adams was done with it. These days, he appears to be looking for work away from Inter. A return could be on the cards, so they say.
Centre Midfield, Emmanuel Petit
Another Wenger favourite from his Monaco days, Petit was reinvented at Arsenal from a centre back into a defensive midfielder, and a wonderful career was born. Few will forget his magnificent flowing locks, which must surely be of the standard to get a “because you’re worth it” advert. He left Arsenal in the summer of 2000 to embark on a short tour of Barcelona and Chelsea.
Left Midfield, Marc Overmars
Sweet baby Moses, Marc Overmars was fast. He was like Shaun Wright-Phillips, only much better at playing football. And a left winger. Like Manu Petit, he left Arsenal in the summer of 2000, after four glorious years, and headed off to Barcelona for a whopping £25 million. He rates Jari Litmanen as the best footballer that he ever played with. Jamie Carragher would probably not agree.
Striker, Nwankwo Kanu
Kanu’s 1999 Arsenal debut was slightly marred when he latched on to a Ray Parlour throw in, following the Sheffield United keeper sportingly putting the ball into touch with a player down, skipped up the wing, and provided the cross for an Overmars goal. Cringe! After that, things got considerably better, and he enjoyed five relatively blissful years at the club. Now occasionally turning out for Portsmouth.
Striker, Thierry Henry
Quite possibly the greatest Arsenal player of all time, Henry knocked in goals aplenty between 1999 and 2007. He then crossed the oceans to play at Barcelona, where he has made quite a name for himself. Sadly, he’s smudged everyone’s memories by tampering with the ball during a very important World Cup qualifier.