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GCR Books

Graham’s players: Anders Limpar – and an insight into the sale of Rocastle

If you think you know your Arsenal history – it is time to think again.   Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.

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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.”

On 20 January 1997, aged 32 Anders moved on again to Birmingham for the rest of the season, before moving back to Sweden with AIK with whom he won the league.  He ended his playing career with Colorado Rapids.
Anders also played 58 times for Sweden and scored six goals, and was part of the team that came third in the World Cup in 1994.
Since ending his playing career he has been a coach in Sweden – although I don’t have up to date information on what he is doing now.  I know there was a story about a bar in Stockholm that he ran, but that doesn’t appear to be around now.
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The Graham Years:

7 comments to Graham’s players: Anders Limpar – and an insight into the sale of Rocastle

  • walter

    Goodness me… this was almost comparable to the slave market…

    Since then the shift in power is totally the other way round it seems.

  • jax

    I know the years play tricks with our memories, but I always have this image of Anders as a penalty winner. In fact I think many of those one nils were as a result of his achievements in this area. Do you have any stats on this?

  • Tony Attwood

    Jax – I don’t have such stats, but maybe they’ll emerge as we keep working on this.

    Tony

  • at a testemonial (might have been david seamans) i spoke to anders for 20 mins and he said that he was gutted at leaving and never wanted to but that GG forced him out and that he was not the only played forced out of the club and he said he loved it at arsenal, i asked him if he would ever write a book and he said no, he is now coaching in sweden at solentuna utd in the swedish 4th div as i was asking a swedish person i follow on twitter, he did say he was doing something else too but i cant remember what he said

  • Matt Clarke

    I had no idea that GG was such a git. Thanks for correcting my sense of history: I will never think of GG in the same way again. Really…what a shitty thing to do to loyal players.

    This makes me even more grateful for AW.

  • colario

    Matt Clarke. That’s the problem for us fans we only see outside the club. We thrive on the club’s success and are emptied by its failures.

    We thrived on the success GG brought to the club little knowing there no foundation for the future being built or the problems players had with him. Very sad, very sad.

  • Mike

    “So I said: ‘But I’ve won so many titles in four years for you, is that not enough?’” I think Limpar must have said that to Graham in his dreams. In his first season he played a major part in the Championship of 1991. He played a tiny part in the ‘Cup Double’ of 1993. And when sold in March 1994 he hadn’t played a single game in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

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