18 Feb 2003: Arsenal v Ajax – One of the Best Days of My Life!
What is your favourite Arsenal possession?
It is almost ten years ago to the day. It was a cold and wet, typical February night in London. Arsenal had just beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford in an FA-cup round the weekend before, and expectations where very high. We beat the Mancs by 2-0 and Bergkamp, Gilberto and Henry did not even start that game: those were the days, hey!
Back then, I had very little opportunity to see Arsenal at Highbury, and I was totally over the moon when I my boss asked – with a cheeky smile on his face – whether I, perhaps, would be interested in going to see the Champions League game between Arsenal and Ajax.
We had just won a major bid for running a ‘Train Operating Company’ in the North of the country, and one of the lawyers my company had used, thought it would be a good idea to thank us for all the business we had given him, by taking six of us along to the CL game at Highbury.
To be fair, the game itself was a bit of a disappointment. Wiltord scored our only goal as early as the fifth minute, and Ajax equalised only twelve minutes later through, believe it or not, a fine goal by Nigel de Jong. After that, we never got properly going; mainly as a result of a young and eager Steven Pienaar somehow being able to ‘shadow and render ineffective’ – as Johan Cruijff described it later in his post match analysis – Vieira throughout most of the game. Here is a quick summary:
But the highlight for me was to come after the game.
The lawyer did not only arrange the tickets but also an Arsenal hospitality package, and after the game there were further drinks and a few speeches by ex-players and the like.
Before the game, all present in the VIP lounge – about 300 ‘guests’- were asked to predict the final score and the first goal scorer. I had predicted the right score but not the correct ‘first goal scorer’. Luckily for me, only five other guests had predicted the correct score, but nobody got the first goal scorer right. My name was drawn from a hat, and I was asked to step forward.
My reward was a signed Arsenal football with signatures of many players of the 2002-03 team. I spontaneously held the ball in the air as if I had won the Champions League cup all on my own, and a big round of applause and cheering followed. I did not see that one coming; it was a great surprise, and a moment I will never forget and always cherish!
Of course, I still have the ball and you will have seen various pictures of it on the blog. Every time I watch Arsenal on TV, the ball is placed on a stool in front of it to bring luck to the team, and of course it always works!
The ball has become my favourite Arsenal possession, and I reckon it will always stay that way.
But what is your favourite memorabilia/possession of our beloved club?
Written by: Total Arsenal.