If you think you know your Arsenal history – it is time to think again. Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.
By Tony Attwood
Anders Erik Limpar (born 24 September 1965)
In many ways Anders Limpar started a revolution. By no means our first non-British Isles player, but he joined a team in 1990 that included Bould, Dixon, Seaman, Winterburn, Davis, Merson, Smith, Groves, Thomas, Campbell, O’Leary, Rocastle, Hillier. It was the essence of English football at the time, players from the UK and Ireland. No others, because they “didn’t understand British football”.
In fact in the summer of 1990 Graham signed Seaman, Limpar, Linighan, and Hillier (in terms of players who played during the season. Seaman with over 400 appearances will stay in our memories for ever. But Anders Limpar despite fewer appearances was something special.
In terms of the league he played 32 times in the first season, 23 in the second, 12 in the third and then just nine in 1993/4. In addition to his 76 appearances from the start he came on 20 times as a sub and scored 17 goals.
Unlike the players he joined at Arsenal, who mostly spent their entire career playing in England, Anders began in Sweden, and then went to Young Boys in Bern, and Cremonese in Italy.
He was 25 when he came to Arsenal, and won the Charity Shield in his first match, the League in his second season and the unprecedented cup double in his third, and then the Cup Winners Cup.
But then something happened, Graham stopped selecting him and at the deadline day of the transfers in March 1994 (this was under the old system – signing was allowed all season until the deadline day in March) he went to Everton. At Everton he went on to win the Cup again so he picked up another medal.
So what happened? In a 2012 interview with Aftonbladet TV Anders Limpar said that playing for George Graham was like “living in Iraq under Saddam”.
“You would turn up for training one day and he would call [one player] into his “room”, although it wasn’t a room because everyone could hear what he was saying. Then he [Graham] would say: ‘I have sold you to Leeds.’ So the player replies: ‘I don’t want to join Leeds.’ Graham then says: ‘Well, you just have to pack your bag and leave.’
“What a swine. I have never seen a guy like that [player]. Tears running down his cheeks. Had been at Arsenal since he was 16. I think it was Leeds he was sold to.”
(The player was presumably Rocastle who was suddenly transferred to Leeds in 1992.)
Anders continued: “He sold me in April with my contract running out in May,” Limpar said. “No talk of extending the contract, just ‘bye bye’. I said: ‘I would like to carry on playing for Arsenal and sign a new deal’, to which he replied: ‘No you are not.”
“So I said: ‘But I’ve won so many titles in four years for you, is that not enough?’ So we went in to his office and I had my agent with me and Graham is talking and says: ‘I have a really good offer from Manchester City so you are going there.’
“So I realised that I was leaving the club, extended my hand to shake his hand and said: ‘Well, thanks for four years then.’ And then he just swivelled round on his chair and stared into the wall. So after four years he did not even shake my hand. We started driving towards Manchester but then we had a phone call from Everton, spoke to them and joined Everton in the end.”
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