It may have been 17 years ago, but the memories of our run to the final of the 2000 Uefa Cup remain fresh for Ray Parlour.
The legendary midfielder played a key role on the road to Copenhagen, but was left bitterly disappointed as Galatasaray beat us on penalties.
As we prepare to embark on our first run in the rebranded competition, Parlour says we should approach it seriously.
“It’s not ideal, you’d rather be in the Champions League but you’ve got to deal with it,” he told Arsenal Player. “It’s worth winning. Look at last season, there’s the top four and then Man United got into [the Champions League] by winning the Europa League, so it will be interesting to see what Arsene Wenger does.
“Certainly it’s an important cup - I didn’t win it, I got to the final in 2000 when we played Galatasaray in the final and we lost on penalties. That was disappointing as that would have been another good trophy to win.
“Galatasaray was a really tough game. They had a great little player in midfield called Hagi, in my area, but we had some really good chances to win the game. I scored one of the penalties, I think someone threw a smoke bomb on the pitch and I think Patrick missed and Davor Suker [missed].
“There’s nothing like losing [a final], you sit in the dressing room afterwards and think about how it’s been a long hard road to get there only to then lose. Being runners-up is no good, you have to be a winner - that was why it was a disappointing year in the end.
“I’m sure this Arsenal team will map it out to try to get to the final, they have good quality and I am sure they will be there or thereabouts.”
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