A Year In Goalkeeping - 2003
As the country prepares for varying degrees of lockdown, the nightmare that is 2020 has us pining for days gone by, where two-meter rules and draconian shutting down of cities would be likened to Orwellian literature not an entire year in the early twenty first century.
We would like to revisit any year, literally any year and even the most average time of our lives seem like mere fantasy, where we could freely go to a pub and stay there until the early hours or go around a friend’s house to watch the football.
Well here is Sparta Spotlight to give you that bit of respite from the crazy world we live in right now, in the form of another edition of ‘A Year in Goalkeepers’.
Here you are watching Champions League football on ITV, listening to Swing Low, Sweet Chariot on your first edition iPod to commemorate England’s Rugby World Cup win.
It’s 2003 again.
Chelsea; Silver Umbro
Umbro’s 2003/04 goalkeeper shirts were very unique for an era in the early 2000’s of rather ‘safe’ designs, opting for a marble pattern on the back and lower arms.
The pattern encompasses the entire back of the kit and the appropriately the two-tone design was met with split opinion.
Chelsea’s silver number in the same campaign, worn predominantly by Carlo Cudicini, incorporates the hybrid design very nicely and is very easy on the eye, despite its considerably daring pattern.
It would be Cudicini’s last full season as the number one at Stamford Bridge, although he did stay at the club for another three seasons after Petr Cech’s arrival, but he certainly went out in style in this beauty of a kit.
David Seaman - ARSENAL vs Sheffield United, FA Cup Semi Final
It would have been easy to give this to Dida for his exploits in the penalty shootout of the 2003 Champions League Final, but until that moment didn’t really have much to do in the game.
David Seaman had been subject to much scrutiny after his misjudgement of Ronaldinho’s freekick in the previous year’s World Cup, paired with a couple of other mistakes for club and country since, but he was defiant in the face of adversity.
To spare Arsenal’s blushes against a dogged Sheffield United, then of the First Division, Seaman pulled off a miraculous save and clawed the ball from the edge of the goal line from Paul Peschisolido’s header.
Seaman had denied Neil Warnock’s men in what was a typically fighting display from the Blades and Arsenal had the veteran England man to thank for their passage into the final of the FA Cup, which they subsequently won.
Jens Lehmann - Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal
From David Seaman’s heroics to his replacement, the German hothead Jens Lehmann, who signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2003.
Lehmann arrived at Highbury with well-publicised disciplinary issues and whilst they did rear their ugly head from time to time in England, Lehmann’s £3.3 million move was very much money well spent.
He was instrumental in Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, avoiding defeat in each of their thirty-eight league games and easing their way to the Premier League title.
Lehmann was also impeccable in the Gunners’ run to the 2006 Champions League Final, but another rush of blood saw him sent off in the showpiece game against Barcelona, which Arsenal lost.
The Germany international stayed with the club until 2008, returning again in 2011 amidst an injury crisis in Arsene Wenger’s squad.
IN OTHER NEWS...
Schmeichel calls it a day
In the summer of 2003 the Premier League and football as a whole bid farewell to one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, Peter Schmeichel.
Schmeichel ended his career in the England where he finished it, in Manchester, but his final moments in football would be in the colours of City, much to the dismay of those who adored him at Old Trafford.
As well as winning all the domestic and continental honours that were at his disposal, the Danish giant was part of his country’s historic European Championship triumph in 1992, arguably the biggest ever upset on the international stage.
The 2002/03 ended with Schmeichel helping City to a very respectable top-half finish in their first season back in the topflight and would surely still be revered in the red half of Manchester upon his retirement.