Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski lifting the 2014 World Cup was the latest in a long line of stunning performances by Gunners wearing their national colours.
From the World Cup to outstanding flashes of individual skill, the following players have represented the club in fine style while on the world stage. Here are 10 international moments every Gunner should be proud of.
10. Gilberto, 2007 Copa America
Gilberto - the elder statesman of a severely depleted Brazilian side - beat the odds to lead his country to a second successive Copa America win.
The Gunners midfielder was named skipper of the Samba Stars after Lucio pulled out of the tournament and the former Atletico Mineiro star took the mantle with relish. The ‘Invisible Wall’ even netted in a tense 5-4 shoot-out win over Uruguay in the semi-final, but a yellow card during the match - his second of the tournament - meant he missed the final, a 3-0 win over Argentina.
However, the Gunner was still on hand to lift the trophy. “To be able to win one must know how to suffer,” said the modest Gilberto. “The credit goes to all of the players.”
9. Eddie Hapgood, Friendly v Germany in Berlin, May 1938
It was a sickening sight, a none were angrier than Arsenal full back Eddie Hapgood. The proud Bristolian, captaining his country in front of 120,000 Germans in Berlin’s impressive Olympic Stadium, leading his side in a Nazi salute as the band played God Save the King.
Moments earlier, when informed by an FA official that they must carry out the unexpected duty, Hapgood screamed, “You can stick your Nazi salute where the sun don’t shine.”
Diplomats were called and under considerable protest, they were given no choice, A stern-faced Hapgood led his side with quiet dignity in appeasing their hosts - then, with a rousing pre-match speech, inspired them to a stunning 6-3 victory.
By the final whistle, the suited and booted Nazi officials had long departed the VIP box.
8. Jack Kelsey, 1958 World Cup
In Wales’ finest hour, Jack Kelsey became a true hero in the Principality. The former Winch Wen stopper was outstanding in the Welsh national side’s one and only World Cup campaign.
The Welsh drew their three group games against superior opponents in Hungary, Mexico and hosts Sweden. Kelsey was particularly inspirational in the latter game, in which the Swedes piled on the pressure but found no way past the Gunner.
In the play-off they took on Hungary who took the lead before turning the game around to win 2-1, with Kelsey again producing a fine string of saves.
In the quarter-finals Kelsey kept out eventual winners Brazil for 70 minutes before he was finally beaten by Pele’s wicked deflection. But the Arsenal man had made a big impression with the Swedish public and his Brazilian opponents, who dubbed him “the cat with the magnetic claws”.
7. Theo Walcott, World Cup qualifier v Croatia, September 2008
Walcott became only the third Arsenal player in history to score a hat-trick for England when he put an impressive Croatian side to the sword in their own back yard.
The ‘Newbury Express’ arrived on the international scene in emphatic style, drilling home two excellent finishes before racing on to Wayne Rooney’s pass to roll home his third and England’s fourth in delightful manner.
England manager Fabio Capello purred: “He is fantastic physically and psychologically. He is young and so dangerous. I hope he doesn’t get any injuries because he is so fast and so dangerous.”
His Croatian counterpart Slaven Bilic, after seeing Walcott become the youngest player ever to score three for England, added: “It is so hard to mark him. That is why he is an England international and that’s why he’s at Arsenal.”
6. David Seaman, European Championships v Spain, June 1996
David Seaman became a national hero overnight after his penalty save put England through to the semis.
Amid stifling tension, the 6ft 4in stopper kept out Miguel Nadal’s spot-kick in a tense shoot-out as the Three Lions beat Spain 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw.
Seaman had restored the nation’s footballing confidence after a devastating shoot-out defeat to Germany in 1990. It was no surprise to us Gunners, of course. Not too long before he was the shoot-out hero against Millwall at the old Den - saving three spot-kicks - and was again the hero against Sampdoria the previous spring.
Not that the man in question was getting carried away. Seaman remained humble as the nation partied: “I’d rather be facing penalties than taking them,” he shrugged, before heading off for a spot of fishing.
5. David O’Leary, 1990 World Cup
“Anyone but him,” recalls Pat Finucane, one of 30,000 Irish fans in Genoa, as David O’Leary walked up to take the decisive spot-kick in a shoot-out with Romania.
Seconds later Irish eyes were smiling. Big time. The Arsenal veteran kept a cool head to side foot the ball past the Romanian goalkeeper and steer the Republic through to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
Back in his native Dublin the Taoiseach, Charley Haughey, who had brooking off a briefing at the EU summit, joined the rest of the nation in delight - dancing a merry jig before getting back down to business.
It remains one of the truly iconic moments in World Cup history.
4. Dennis Bergkamp, World Cup v Argentina, July 1998
Was this Bergkamp’s finest goal? It wasn’t far off, inspiring a truly crazy piece of TV commentary.
With a minute remaining, the World Cup quarter-final with Argentina was delicately poised at 1-1, when Frank de Boer sent a raking 60-yard ball into the opposition area. Bergkamp sprung to deaden the ball with his first touch, taking defender Roberto Ayala out of the equation, and then volleyed into the roof of the net for one of the most dramatic winners in World Cup history.
And as for that commentary, which is now more famous in the Netherlands than the goal itself, do a search for ‘insane Dutch commentator’ on Youtube and you’ll see, or rather hear, what the fuss is about.
3. Emmanuel Petit, World Cup final v Brazil, July 1998
Two goals to the good against Brazil and with only a few seconds of injury time remainiig, the Arsenal double-winning midfield combination of Manu Petit and Patrick Vieira produced a moment of pure World Cup magic.
An energetic Petit - whose corner had been headed home by Zinedine Zidane for the opener - crowned a powerful midfield performance for Les Bleus when he slotted home their third and final goal after he was picked out by a beautifully-weighted pass from his club-mate.
It was poetry in motion in the city of romance. Not only was it the final goal of the game, it was also the last World Cup goal of the 20th century.
Early editions of the Daily Mirror exclaimed: “Arsenal win the World Cup” on its front page. It remained framed in the Highbury boardroom until the move to the Emirates, and it can now be found in the press lounge.
If only it were England…
2. Battle of Highbury, England v Italy, 1934
On November 14, 1934, Arsenal provided no fewer than seven members of England’s starting lineup for the visit of World Cup champions Italy.
The match, dubbed the Battle of Highbury, was one of the most bruising contests in football history, with 56,044 fans watching the hosts, who should have been playing in red and white, lead 3-0 after 15 minutes.
Ted Drake, scorer of the third, broke Luis Monti’s foot, setting the scene for an eagerly-fought contest which saw England trainer Tom Whittaker - another Arsenal representative - nursing half a dozen England players at the final whistle.
The Italians netted twice but the England rearguard, superbly marshalled by Arsenal’s rugged centre back Wilf Copping, held on for a famous victory. The English press promptly crowned the Three Lions unofficial world champions while their Italian counterparts called the victors ‘The Lions of Highbury’.
The Arsenal seven on that memorable Wednesday afternoon were: Frank Moss, George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Wilf Copping, Ray Bowden, Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin.
1. Germany 7-1 brazil, 2014 World Cup semi-final
“It was a funeral,” Arsene Wenger recalled. “It was not even violent. The disappointment was just so huge because you had people who were speechless. It was more than a defeat, it was like an earthquake where people were just speechless.”
He was right. Germany’s 7-1 decimation of the 2014 World Cup’s host nation silenced the carnival atmosphere in Brazil but, with two Arsenal players on the pitch and a third on the bench, Gunners worldwide would have been celebrating the Brazilians’ demise.
Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose gave Germany an early lead but then Mesut Ozil grew in influence, playing a part in Toni Kroos’ first goal before directly assisting Sami Khedira with a clever reverse pass.
Per Mertesacker entered the fray at half-time, and Andre Schurrle struck twice at the death to put the finishing touches on what will go down as one of the greatest and most shocking World Cup games in history.
Germany went on to win the tournament by beating Argentina 1-0 in the final and, in Mertesacker, Ozil and Lukas Podolski, Arsenal had another three World Cup winners to add to their international success.
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