By David Jahngir
I had been to Arsenal games as a kid, both at White Hart Lane and also Upton Park, but what felt like my first proper game as an adult was the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against French side Paris Saint Germain at Highbury.
We had sneaked a draw in the Parc Des Princes a week earlier with a goal from the ever dependable in Ian Wright and were faced with completing the job with the prospect of our first European final in fourteen years on the horizon.
I was in the Clock End for the game and only when I got to the stadium did I realise just how close I was going to be to the away fans. At the time our opponents had a whole host of stars on their books including Alain Roche, David Ginola, Valdo and George Weah. They were undoubtedly one of the most glamorous sides to visit N5 in years and real threat to George Graham’s solid, but unspectacular unit.
Arsenal began well and took an early lead thanks to a Kevin Campbell header following a brilliant whipped in cross by Dixon. Strangely up until he scored, the striker had been something of a scapegoat for the crowd and I remember being shocked at the level of stick he was subjected to.
After the goal though it was all about chanting “One-nil to the Ar-se-nal, One-nil to the Ar-se-nal” for ten consecutive minutes just feet from the faces of the Parisian away fans. I think at one point my brother was actually warned by the Police for being a little too boisterous.
Mid-way through the second half and Arsenal fans had their hearts in their mouths as the ball was flashed across to the back post where an unmarked Ginola looked set to level the match. Fortunately, however, he slid the ball the wrong side of the post and every Gooner started to sense that it might be Arsenal’s night after all. It wasn’t all good news though, late on in the game Ian Wright received a booking which confirmed he would miss the final should his teammates make it. Sensing his disappointment, the crowd filled the air with “Ian Wright, Wright, Wright!”
After a few more tense moments the final whistle was finally blown by the referee and Gooners everywhere were ecstatically dancing with joy. As I turned around the PSG fans all moved to exchange scarves with their Arsenal counterparts. I didn’t realise this was a common tradition in Europe and point-blank refused every single request. Arsenal had just made the final after all, why would I want a scarf from the losing side…