On May 7, 2006, Arsenal said goodbye to Highbury after 93 years at their spiritual home. And they did so in spectacular fashion.
On an afternoon of excruciating tension and almost unending drama, Arsenal secured the fourth and final Champions League place with a dramatic 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic, stealing it from under the noses of arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
"My celebration said it all. I kissed the ground goodbye. Highbury is just a special place."
Needing to better whatever Spurs could take from their trip to West Ham United, Robert Pires put Arsène Wenger's side ahead in the early stages. Yet the season's surprise package Wigan were out to spoil the party and silenced the home crowd with strikes from Paul Scharner and David Thompson.
Anxious Arsenal ears were pressed to radios in search of the score from Upton Park. West Ham had struck early but Spurs were level by the break. No fear. So were Arsenal. Thierry Henry eased home an equaliser on 35 minutes.
Soon after the restart news filtered through that West Ham's Teddy Sheringham had missed a penalty. But almost immediately, Henry profited from a Thompson error to edge Arsenal in front once more.
The captain completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot with 14 minutes left and kissed the Highbury turf in celebration. It was a fitting way for the ground's most prolific striker to sign off. The rest of the crowd joined in just a few minutes later with the news of West Ham's second goal.
The final minutes were a blur of joy, excitement, tension and fear. It all built up to an overflowing of emotion at the final whistle. The 2010th and final game at Arsenal's wonderful old ground had produced one final memory to treasure.
"My celebration said it all," said Henry afterwards. "I kissed the ground goodbye. Highbury is just a special place."
His words echoed the feelings of Arsenal fans everywhere.
Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.