Anyone fancy another ‘Alpine Man’??

April 22, 2010

Gilles Grimandi, a gutsy, fearless kind of a player, a player who I once dreaded seeing play for us but who in the end, turned out to be a favourite of mine and I’m sure of many others.

I recall him playing in the Dennis Bergkamp Testimonial, ex spud Edgar Davids was through on goal – he was odds on to score, mme, he had an open goal and was about to pull the trigger –  that was until Gilles Grimandi took Davids out, literally, no goal and I think I’m right in saying no telling off from the referee either.

Grimandi didn’t care that the game was a friendly, I think all he saw was a Spud ex, he knew what the fans thought of that didn’t he…

No way on that day was David’s going to spoil Dennis’s day.

In case you’ve never seen it, click on the link….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtidXpWaVVM

Don’t suppose Gilles needed motivating for the local derby either – yet he was from France, so the overseas players have no excuse do they?

Grimandi grew on me, big time – his curls, his attitude, his commitment – yes we had to wait a season or two, but he got there and my fears left me…

Instead of having the dreaded Denilson or Diaby, wouldn’t you just love another Grimandi there on the bench, a player who if called on to start would give all for the sake of the club and fans? I know I would…

So who was he?

Gilles Grimandi, born on the 11th November 1970 in Gap, France – no, that doesn’t mean his mother was shopping in the big clothes store, there is a place in France called GAP  😆

Grimandi joined us in 1997, another typical Wenger signing – French, defender but can also play in midfield. The latter I think turned out to be his better position. Fondly known as the Alpine Man, Mr Man Mountain by his team mates, we all learned why by the time he left in 2002…

In his time he even bagged himself six goals, not many, but I’ll forgive him just for that Davids tackle !!

Quite a few years ago, Kung Fu kicker Erick Cantona once refered to Didier Deschamps as ‘Water Carrier’ – the refernce was made exactly how it sounds to, bit of an insult, the player who was only good enough to carry on the water – yeah right Erick!!

But what that expression really means in the friendly world of football is, The Utility Man, the man that can do whatever is called on him to do, that was Gilles Grimandi. He didn’t seem to care where he played, he just loved playing and at that time it was clear to see that he loved playing for Arsenal..

Prior to joining us, Grimandi began his career with AS Monaco in 1990 and made his first-team debut in 1991 against AS Nancy in the French top division.

His career was set back after a call up by the French military service, he went on to make 67 appearances and score 3 goals for the club, mostly as a centre back. He helped the club reach both a UEFA Champions League and a UEFA Cup semifinal and won the league title in 1996-97.

The following season, Grimandi left Monaco and signed for us, he obviously missed Arsene, he made his debut at Leeds United, and was part of the squad that won The Double in his first season.

He made 113 league appearances as a midfielder, centre back, and right back. He was also part of the squad which won second Double in his final season (2001-02) along the way I think he became a fans favourite.

Grimandi is still with Arsenal, in a scouting role – he say’s he is lucky and that for most people, life after Arsenal is mainly downhill!

He also had this to say not long after he left our club…..

I think many players have done a lot more for Arsenal than me,. I just tried to do what was asked of me and give it my best – I’m not being modest, its the way I think. When you play alongside players like like Vieira and other top players, its easy. You just have to know your job and work for them. Playing at the back was always a bit harder – it wasn’t my natural position – but I was just delighted whenever I was part of things. I might have been on the bench a lot, but for me just being included in the first sixteen, with so many wonderful players around me was a great thing’

That says it all for me –

1) Its easy to play football when you are surrounded by wonderful players

2) More importantly,’You just have to know your job and work for them’ AND ‘I just tried to do what was asked of me and give it my best’

And Grimandi did just that, he gave it his best and that’s why I would love to see us sign another man like him….

Have a good day all…

Next up is Lardy and his lot….

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Happy Birthday Arsène …….

October 22, 2009

Sixty years ago today, our fine manager was born – Happy Birthday, maybe even you will raise a glass today, no doubt a few fans will 😛

I am sure most of us thought ‘Who the heck is this man?’ when he arrived at Highbury to take over from Rioch, and I am even more sure that many of us thought ‘He’ll never last’ – But he has and now having celebrated 13 years with the club, today he celebrates reaching the ripe old age of 60!!

I would say that 60 years old is a long way away for some of us, but best I don’t upset anyone 🙂

He had a little dabble at playing the game, but from seeing the names of the clubs he played for maybe he knew he would always be better at managing a team rather than playing for one – Mutzig, Mulhouse, Strasbourg were his employers during his playing days…

Strasbourg (youth), Cannes (assistant), Nancy, AS Monaco, Grampus Eight Nagoya were the clubs where he applied some of his magic as Manager.

In 1988 he won the French League championship with Monaco, the French Cup in 1991, and was voted French ‘Manager of the year’ in 1988.

On to Grampus Eight where he was Japan’s ‘Manager of the Year’ in 1995, Emperor’s Cup winner in 1996, Japanese Super Cup winner 1996 – Not bad I suppose 😉

And then in 1996 we all had the pleasure of being told this skinny man with spectacles bigger than my wine glasses would be our manager. Boy how he changed our club, the players followed his strict diet and gained a few years of their playing careers, the alcohol stopped flowing and even Merse had to sneak into the betting shop, that’s if he dared!!

So what has done for us then in the thirteen years that he has been at the helm? What has he achieved to make him more grey over the last few seasons, what can he look back on and toast it with a glass of the finest French Red on his 60th?

League champions in 1998, 2002, 2004,
FA Cup winners in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005,
‘Manager of the Year’ in 1998, 2002, 2004

I have a cunning thought; all that is missing from the above is a Champions League Winners medal and a Carling Cup Winners Medal.

At the end of the season, still in Arsene’s 61st year, how many of us would be happy if those two missing medals are won?????

Go for it Arsene, bring us fans some happiness in May 2010 – do that and I am sure we will all want you here to raise a glass on your 70th..

Happy Birthday Arsene – You have a lovely day, you deserve it – I will be raising a glass to you later, actually, probably before ave gets out of bed!! 😛