BY BARRY DE SILVA / @BRDESILVA
One of my all-time favourite moments as an Arsenal supporter took place on a chilly Wednesday night at Highbury on 20th September 2000.
Pitted against Shakhtar Donetsk the Champions League group game wasn’t made memorable, like so many European fixtures, by the brilliance of Thierry Henry or the dominance of Patrick Vieira, but rather by the never-say-die attitude of Martin Keown.
Trailing 2-0 after half an hour and with Ukrainian keeper Yuriy Virt in inspired form it didn’t look as though it was going to be our night. A red card for Sergei Popov made life a little easier, and despite Henry missing a penalty the gap was finally reduced when Sylvain Wiltord netted from the rebound.
After that we toiled and toiled trying to find an equaliser. As a 13-year-old, it was unimaginable that we could lose to a team whose name I didn’t know how to pronounce and about whom I knew nothing!
I was praying for Kanu or Bergkamp to conjure up the necessary magic in the final third, but with less than six minutes left on the clock salvation was finally forthcoming from the most unlikely of sources.
After a corner was fizzed across the six yard box, no-nonsense Keown bravely leapt to chest the ball into the Shakhtar net to make it 2-2. Then with only seconds remaining he sealed an unforgettable night by linking up with Kanu to crash the ball into the bottom corner to complete the comeback and send the Highbury crowd into raptures.
As Keown celebrated his first ever brace with an Alan Shearer-esque raise of the finger the crowd made sure his name rang out around North London. It was a thrilling victory and one which inspired me to spend the next week paying homage to his heroics in the school yard.
There's only one Martin Keown.
(Picture courtesy of Arsenal.com)