So, while Arsenal news is slow and filled with rumours and during an international break, I thought I would look at the Gunners history when it comes to the World Cup.
Born in 1987, it would be another 11 years until an Arsenal player kicked a ball in FIFA’s showpiece event.
We didn’t have a single representative at Italia 90.
Eddie McGoldrick went to USA 94 but never came off the bench for Ireland.
Which brings us to France 1998.
At this point the domestic game in the UK had changed. It was more common for British clubs to buy talent from abroad, with Arsene Wenger a big part of that due to his knowledge of the World market.
Logically the more overseas players in North London increased Arsenal’s representation at future tournaments.
Compared to the 1 Gunner who participated in the previous two editions, 7 flew to France.
You could argue that in the proud history of the famous gold trophy, never had players from Highbury made the journey so confident.
Dennis Bergkamp had won numerous Players of the Year awards, Marc Overmars had been our star man in the second half of the campaign, Vieira and Petit were credited as the best midfield partnership in the country while Mr Wenger had been praised for prolonging the careers of Seaman, Adams and Keown due to fresh training and dietary methods.
Adams has since admitted that, now sober, this was one of the few tournaments he could enjoy where the pressure of the occasion wasn’t handled by drink.
He was one of the few to benefit from the seclusion and boredom around the team hotel and was responsible for entertainment, such as how many song quotes he and his peers could sneak into interviews.
The trio of English Gunners have all complimented Glen Hoddle’s training sessions and tactical insight if not his man-management style.
The Three Lions exit to Argentina is one of the few exciting knockout ties we have participated in.
Seaman had a mixed night, conceding a spot kick after 5 minutes but also making a save in the penalty shoot after a 2-2 draw.
That would send Argentina on a collision course with Holland, memorable for the goal of the tournament.
Bergkamp had missed our title run in and FA Cup Final due to injury so was nursed gently into the Dutch’s first few fixtures.
With seconds to go of the quarter final, the striker, with one touch, controlled a stunning pass by De Boer, the second took the ball past the defender, the third scored.
If you never watched it – Here it is!
France had a great mixture of experience and youth in their squad.
So, when Zidane got suspended or LeBouef and Blanc injured, you could bring in a youngster like Vieira.
Early in the final he came on for Desailly and ended up playing the pass that set up Petit to make it 3-0 against Brazil.
The duo seen vital to our Double had now lifted the World Cup!
For many the story was what happened to the Brazilian Ronaldo that day with conspiracy theories still abound to this present day.
The biggest story though was the impact the result had on the host nation.
Perhaps few World Cup matches had as much political impact as this.
The class of 98 are viewed as doing ‘more for integration then politics will.’
Zidane, scorer of two headers, is the son of Algerian immigrants. Vieira, born in Senegal, assisted Petit from Normandy.
Known as ‘La France – black – blanc- beur’ due to its range of ethnicities, a whole nation came together.
No matter race, religion, culture, everyone in France was one!
Learn more about Arsenal’s proud history – Decade by Decade CLICK HERE to visit our new Arsenal History section
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