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Sylvain Wiltord: a tribute

By Tony Attwood

On 11 June 2012 Sylvain Wiltord announced his retirement from playing football.   Although I missed this as an anniversary, I really do feel the need to go back and pay tribute to one of our great, great players who spent four years at Highbury, winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups and scoring one of the great, classic Arsenal goals at Manchester United in the midst of some of the most appallingly nonchalant refereeing the Premier League has ever seen.

Sylvain Claude Wiltord was born on 10 May 1974 and played his early career with Stade Rennais, Deportivo La Coruña and Bordeaux with whom he won the French League.

After a dispute with Bordeaux, Wiltord was signed by Arsenal for our then current record: £13m in August 2000 (not exceeded until we bought Arshavin), after scoring in stoppage time in the Euro 2000 final.

He played 175 times for us and scored 49 goals, including a hat-trick scored in 33-minutes against West Ham in his first season.  He played generally as a winger, but also sometimes up front, and he scored THAT goal at OT, where our supporters held up the “Old Trafford Champions Section” banner, as we won 1–0 despite the referee, and did the Double.     He was subsequently voted 33rd in the list of all time Arsenal greats.  I’d have put him higher.

In 2004 he moved to Lyon and won the League three times in a row, before moving to Rennes in 2007 on a two year contract.  It was thought he would stay at Rennes as a coach, but he went back to Marseilles in January 2009.

One year later he was off again, this time to Metz, and then in July 2011 he went to FC Nantes.   He announced his retirement on 11 June 2012.

He was capped 92 times for France and continued playing up to 2006.  What he’ll do now, I have no idea.  If you catch sight of him or hear what he is up to, please do write in.

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1 comment to Sylvain Wiltord: a tribute

  • Tony says: “He was subsequently voted 33rd in the list of all time Arsenal greats. I’d have put him higher.”

    Big Al says: Sorry, but No Way!
    His goalscoring ratio of 1 goal in 3 games was pretty good for a wide player. But I feel he didn’t quite live up to his reputation (for Arsenal that is) and of course his price tag.
    In a list of ALL-TIME greats? Difficult, if somewhat impossible, seeing as we didn’t actually see so many teams/players of bygone days – we can only judge by the record books, fame, reputation and statistics and recorded opinions.
    By checking through the A-Z list of ALL Arsenal players I figure that at least 30 players would be ahead of Wiltord from the earliest truly famous ‘star’ David Jack through to Jack Kelsey. Continuing with David Herd through to present day I’ve noted a further 45 players that would, in my very humble opinion (for what that’s worth) be rated higher than Wiltord.
    And shouldn’t we take into account many years’ service? Wiltord served approx 4 years only, compared to double-figures for others. If I were to ‘assess and guess’ the credentials of the players-of-bygone days, and then add my own PERSONAL assessments based literally on my own experience then I would rate Wiltord at approximately number 75 (only).

    My interest in the Gunners began in 1961 (Spurs Cup Final time). I saw my first game at Arsenal Stadium in 1963 (vs Man Utd), as a nine year-old. I lived in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and travelled approx 72 miles by train for home games. I travelled to many away games also, some closer than London – Birmingham approx 50 miles. Luckily, my dad was a (steam) train driver and I got discounted travel fares (until adulthood).
    I’m now 58 years old. I see EVERY Arsenal game out here in Thailand (in fact ALL Premiership games are shown LIVE). I also get FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Europa League, German, Spanish and Italian. Plus internationals. So I keep well in touch the game.

    Thanks for another interesting post. I actually thought I would never disagree with you, Tony.
    Ah well. Keep up the good work.

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