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'I read they'd replace me just three games in!'

Alan Smith

When Alan Smith joined us from Leicester in 1987, he knew it was going to be a challenge to step up to the next level. 

Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, our former striker described the moment he understood the added pressure that comes with playing for The Arsenal. 
 
"I remember after putting my name on the dotted line," Smith said. "Steve Burtenshaw gave me a tour of Highbury and we went out on to the pitch. 

"I'll never forget, he took me out to the centre spot and he's gone, 'Alan, a lot of centre forwards have come here with the number nine on their back, but not many have been able to succeed.' I thought, 'Oh my god, what have I let myself in for here?' 
 
"I kind of found out what he meant a few weeks later when we'd gone three games without a win, we'd lost to Liverpool on the opening day and then Manchester United and QPR. Three games without a win and I'm sat in the treatment room the following week and I've picked up The Sun newspaper. On the back, the headline read, 'Arsenal Go For Kerry Dixon', who was Chelsea's chief goal-getter at the time. It said, 'Go for Kerry Dixon because Alan Smith has failed to impress'. I thought, 'Wow, three games... this is the difference between Leicester and Arsenal.' 
 
"You felt that scrutiny and that pressure to perform, not just in matches but in training as well. You're competing against better players, the standard has been hyped up and you know that you have to respond. Thankfully, on the fourth game I got a hat-trick against Portsmouth and it kind of got me going. 
 
"You could tell straight away the difference between a club like Leicester, where of course you're expected to do well, but if you went three of four games without scoring not a lot would be said. Whereas at Arsenal, the headlights were on you so to speak. The criticism was never far away."

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'No one gave us a chance, but it was magnificent'

Kevin Campbell

After beating Standard Liege, Torino and Paris Saint-Germain, we faced Parma in the 1994 Cup Winners' Cup final in Denmark.

Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, Kevin Campbell recounted our journey to the final and how we came out on top with a weakened team.
 
"We knew it would be nip and tuck with [Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final]," he said. "The quality they had, we felt we should have been ahead from the first leg and we were ahead, but they pegged us back. We knew if we could get ourselves ahead at Highbury then we could defend well enough to see it out.

 
"I wasn't even supposed to be playing, I think Merse got injured just before. He wasn't well before the game and I ended up playing and the football gods, that's the way they work, don't they? It comes up, Lee Dixon swings the cross in, I get a header on target and luckily it hits the back of the net and we end up winning the game 1-0.
 
"But again, Wrighty gets booked in that game, he can't play in the final, he has a little bit of a meltdown at half-time and he's going crazy. We have to calm him down, George Graham has to calm him down, but we go out there and do the business.
 
"[The final in] Copenhagen was magnificent for us, we had virtually half a team going out there. No one gave us a chance against a really, really top Parma team with some world-class talent, but that was what we were about.
 
“We were about defeating the odds and it was just typical Arsenal. We go there and I was so pleased for Alan Smith to not only play, but to get a goal like he did. That was a goal worthy of winning any cup final."

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