No.6: FA Cup Final – 4th May 2002 – Arsenal v Chelsea - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
(Halfway through second half,
score Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea)
With about 20 minutes left to play Parlour picked up the ball in midfield but his way forward appeared blocked. However, as the Chelsea defenders stood off him, watching the runs of players they deemed more dangerous, Parlour created a little space for himself then hit a tremendous curling shot from 25 yards that rocketed into the top right hand corner of the net. The massed ranks of Arsenal fans behind the goal, us included, went wild. Surely it couldn’t get any better, but it did.
Nine minutes later Freddie Ljungberg picked up the ball just inside our own half of the pitch. He burst forward and darted past three Chelsea players, the last one, John Terry, desperately trying to claw him down. Ljungberg shrugged him off and as he reached the edge of the penalty area he looked up. I seemed to be in line as he struck the ball with precision, and watched, mesmerised, as it curved out to the right beyond the dive of Cudicini and then curled back and into the net. Ljungberg had already become the darling of the crowd that season, the red streak in his hair cementing his place in our hearts – helped not a little by the six goals he’d scored in the last five games prior to the Final. There was no way back for Chelsea.
As the players paraded the Cup the stadium sound system cranked up the volume and began blasting out the 1960’s hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – it was Ljungberg’s song. What an extraordinary feeling that must be, to have tens of thousands of fans singing to you. “We love you Freddie, because you’ve got red hair, etc.etc.” It was a magical moment. Yet we were not just deliriously happy because we’d won the Cup; because of our amazing run of form in the League too it meant that the Double was on - again. But before that, we had to get out of Cardiff – it proved to be the toughest part of the day.