On this day in 2006, Arsenal faced Hamburg in a game which produced a unique quirk for the Gunners.
After Kolo Toure was replaced by Justin Hoyte in the 28th minute, Arsenal‘s XI comprised of 11 different nationalities.
Arsene Wenger’s men were already 1-0 up by that point having scored through a Gilberto Silva penalty after Hamburg keeper Sascha Kirschstein had been sent off in the 10th minute for tripping Robin van Persie.
Tomas Rosicky doubled the visitors’ lead in the second half before Hamburg bagged a consolation goal in the 90th minute through Boubacar Sanogo (no relation).
Here, if only to help you in future pub quizzes, we remember those 11 Arsenal players.
Sanago’s late goal brought to an end Lehmann’s Champions League record of 853 minutes without conceding, albeit the 10 games the run was spread over included the 2006 final, when the former Germany international was sent off after only 18 minutes against Barcelona.
Still, everyone’s favourite psychopathic goalkeeper returned to north London in the summer to take up a role as one of Wenger’s first-team coaches.
Even better, in 2010 Lehmann played the role of Big John Jacobs in the film ‘Themba’, which looks utterly, utterly dreadful.
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Eboue ended September 2006 by being named Arsenal’s Player of the Month and scored in the return fixture against Hamburg in November, but his season was blighted by niggling injury problems. The right-back was last seen joining Sunderland in 2016 for 22 days before being hit with a one-year suspension by FIFA for failing to pay a former agent.
Eboue’s son is now a member of the Arsenal academy, where he plays alongside Jamie Redknapp’s son, leading to the Ivorian trying to convert the Sky pundit to Christianity. It’s also worth revisiting this annecdote about visiting Buckingham Palace which Eboue told the Daily Telegraph last year:
“We went there and Thierry Henry said to me, ‘Please, Emmanuel, this is Buckingham Palace, it’s the Queen’s house, don’t do anything.’
“‘No problem,’ I said. ‘Don’t worry.’ So the Queen came in and went along shaking each player’s hand. After she’d finished I saw all her corgis so I said, ‘Ma’am, Ma’am.’ She turned back and asked, ‘How are you?’ and I said, ‘Ma’am, I am OK thank you but please, I don’t want to be a footballer any more, I want to look after your dogs. I want to take them for walks, wash them, feed them. I want to be a dog carer.’
“The Queen, honestly, she was laughing. Prince Philip was laughing too. All the team were laughing.”
Djourou made 30 appearances for Arsenal in 2006-07, but the following season he was loaned out to Birmingham. The defender now plays alongside Samuel Eto’o, Jeremy Menez and former Gunner Samir Nasri at Turkish outfit Antalyaspor.
Known among Arsenal fans for the odd calamity, earlier this week it emerged Djourou lost thousands of pounds in an Airbnb scam. “Little did we know that after a 10hrs drive from Hamburg to Geneva that the house we paid for was nowhere to be seen,” he said.
If Lehmann wasn’t volatile enough in goal, adding Gallas into the mix ensured Arsenal had their fair share of, shall we say, ‘big personalities’. The defender had just joined the Gunners as part of the deal which saw Chelsea sign Ashley Cole, and his career in the red half of north London was certainly eventful.
The former France international retired in 2014 after a short spell with Perth Glory, and seems to pop up every now and again make the kind of semi-controversial comments that should be expected from a player who was accused by Chelsea of threatening to score an own goal if selected.
Completing the line-up of 11 different nationalities following the injury suffered to Toure, Hoyte had spent the previous season on loan at Sunderland and, after leaving Arsenal in 2008, went on to appear for Middlesbrough, Millwall, Dagenham and Redbridge.
After representing England at various youth levels, the full-back switched allegiance to Trinidad and Tobago in 2013, winning 18 caps.
In March, the 32-year-old joined FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League, essentially the second tier of football in the USA.
It’s impossible not to love Rosicky, who scored an absolute rocket to open his account for Arsenal against Hamburg. In 10 seasons in north London, the midfielder was often one of Arsenal’s most committed, consistent and loyal performers, albeit equally injury prone.
After returning to hometown club Sparta Prague, Rosicky suffered a heart-breaking season-ending injury following only 19 minutes of action.
Thankfully, the 36-year-old marked his first start in 16 years for Sparta Prague with a goal at the weekend. That feeling in your chest is your heart warming.
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One of the most underrated members of Arsenal’s Invincibles and a player the Gunners have struggled to replace since he left in 2008.
“He is, for me, class,” Wenger once said of Gilberto. “Modesty, humility, on a human front a top-class person. He was ready to sacrifice himself for the team.”
Since retiring, the 40-year-old has helped set up a players’ union in Brazil and also has a giant anteater named after him in London Zoo, which means he is now our favourite footballer.
Still a teenager in 2006-07, by the end of the season Fabregas had made 150 appearances in Arsenal’s first team.
You might have noticed him since he left the Gunners, he’s only won La Liga, a Copa Del Rey, two Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup, two Premier League titles, a League Cup, two European Championships and the World Cup.
And yes, he’s still being brilliant.
“Part of me regrets not staying at Arsenal,” admitted Hleb last year. “Wenger was like a father to me and he trusted me. It saddens me to think about it.”
After leaving Arsenal in 2008, Hleb has moved clubs a ludicrous 12 times. The 36-year-old’s career includes four separate spells at Bate Borisov, and the attacking midfielder was last seen making seven appearances as Krylia Sovetov Samara were relegated from the Russian Premier League.
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In his first full season at Arsenal, Adebayor ended the campaign with 12 goals before exploding the following term and hitting the back of the net 30 times.
The striker now turns out for Istanbul Basaksehir and if you can name the six former Premier League players he plies his trade alongside our Editor Mark Holmes will buy you a pint.
*answers at the bottom of this article
Two weeks after playing against Hamburg, Van Persie scored that volley against Charlton, a strike which Wenger described as “the goal of a lifetime”. But it would be a familiar story for the Dutchman, who was ruled out for the rest of the season after fracturing a metatarsal while celebrating an equaliser against Manchester United.
Van Persie is now into his third season with Fenerbahce. With Roberto Soldado and Vincent Janssen as potential strike partners, it’s fair to say the pressure is on the 34-year-old to grab the goals.
*Manuel Da Costa, Eljero Elia, Emre Belozoglu, Gael Clichy, Kerim Frei & Gokhan Inler. Homzy’s money is probably safe.
These are mightily impressive.
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