Arsenal face Cologne on Thursday night in their first match in the Europa League – 17 years on from their last fixture in the continent’s second tier competition – but how much do you know about that game?
The Gunners face their Group H rivals from the Bundesliga known as the Billy Goats at the Emirates – but their previous match in the tournament was the UEFA Cup Final way back in May 2000 against Turkish side Galatasary.
Britney Spears was No 1 in the charts with ‘Oops!…I did it again’ and Tony Blair was the PM at 10 Downing Street as more than 20,000 Arsenal fans set off to Copenhagen to watch their heroes take on the team from Istanbul led by the wily Fatih Terem.
Ray Parlour charges past Galatasary’s Ergun Penbe during the 2000 UEFA Cup Final
Arsenal’s French midfielder Emmanuel Petit goes to ground as comrade Patrick Vieria looks on
Viera takes on Carlos Capone during the game at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium in May 2000
The game was played at the Parken Stadium in the Scandinavian city. It was a ground that held happy memories for Gunners fans after their against-the-odds victory against a star-studded Parma side in the 1994 European Cup Winners Cup final.
Their 1-0 triumph, through an Alan Smith goal against the Serie A team at the peak of their powers that included Faustino Asprilla, Thomas Brolin and Gianfranco Zola, was dubbed The Miracle of Copenhagen. Six years on from that match many fans set off in expectation of another happy outcome.
However, there had been violence before Galatasary’s semi-final against Leeds United, where tragically, two fans from England lost their lives in the Turkish capital.
Thierry Henry was to miss a number of chances as Arsenal failed to show their normal form
The Brazilian left-back Sylvinho played in the famed Gunners back line at the Parken Stadium
The fatal incident meant there was a feeling of apprehension surrounding the build-up to the match.
And the night before kick-off, there were clashes between the two sets of fans that ended with an Arsenal fan being stabbed.
On the day of the game there were serious outbreaks of violence that led to many injuries on both sides around the centre of the Danish capital – and it was to that regrettable backdrop that the game took place on Wednesday, May 17.
Arsenal legends Tony Adams and Lee Dixon can only look on during the penalty shootout
Arsenal fielded a powerful side containing most of the legendary back five including David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown with Tony Adams as captain.
In midfield was the hugely effective combination of Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieria, Ray Parlour and the flying Dutchman Marc Overmars, with the stellar pair of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp up front.
Galatasaray included the experienced Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel, who played in the 1998 World Cup final. Also in the line-up was Hakan Sukur, who was to later join Inter Milan and Blackburn Rovers.
Loyal and passionate Arsenal fans pictured in Copenhagen before UEFA Cup final in May 2000
There had been serious outbreaks of trouble before the match in the centre of Copenhagen
The Danish riot police in the centre of Copenhagen as Arsenal played Galatasary 17 years ago
ARSENAL V GALATASARY MATCH FACTS
2000 UEFA CUP FINAL: Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, May 17,
ARSENAL: Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Keown, Sylvinho, Parlour, Petit, Vieira, Overmars, Henry, Bergkamp
GALATASARAY: Taffarel, Capone, Popescu, Korkmaz, Penbe, Buruk, Davala, Kaya, Hagi, Erdem, Sukur
BOOKED: Capone, Popescu, Korkmaz, Buruk, Erdem, Adams, Keown, Viera
SENT OFF: Hagi
RESULT: 0-0 aet Galatasary won 4-1 on penalties
GALA SPOT KICKS: Ergun, Hakan, Umit, Popescu
ARSENAL SPOT KICKS: Suker (missed), Parlour, Viera (missed)
REFEREE: Antonio Lopez Nieto
The talented Gheorgie Hagi – who fans nicknamed The Commander – was also in the team, alongside Gheorge Popescu, who had spent a season in the mid-nineties at Arsenal’s arch rivals Spurs.
Despite the off-field woes, the scene should have been set for a feast of football. But the occasion seemed to overwhelm both sides.
Overmars’ low shot forced Taffarel to make a diving save on 35 minutes. Sukur then found Erdem, who beat the offiside trap only for his shot to fly wide moments before half time.
Arsenal only had themselves to blame for the game heading into extra time after missing a number of chances they would expect to have put away.
With the game having the golden goal ruling, a strike in overtime would have clinched the trophy – but Henry had a number of shots saved by Taffarel.
Henry went close again but his shot from an acute angle flew across the goalmouth while Overmars missed another chance.
Then, at the start of the second-half of extra time, Keown blasted a shot over from close range.
Nwankwo Kanu, Davor Suker and Sylvinho (right) can’t hide their disappointment at the result
Martin Keown consoles Marc Overmars after Galatasary won the penalty shoot-out 4-1
As the match went to a penalty shoot-out not many Gunners fans held out hope as earlier in the season, the Premiership runners-up went out of the FA Cup at Leicester and the Worthington Cup at Middlesbrough on penalties.
And so it was to prove again as Galatasaray scored all four from six yards out, while Davor Suker and Viera missed their spot-kicks leaving Parlour as the only successful taker in red and white. The Turkish side won 4-1 on penalties.
With eight bookings and a sending off – after midfielder Hagi was dismissed early in extra time for punching Adams – the game was one to forget for Wenger’s men.
The Galatasary team celebrate winning the 2000 UEFA Cup Final at the Parken Stadium
Galatasaray picked up the trophy to make it a treble that year after claiming their 14th Turkish league title, as well as the Turkish Cup.
For Arsenal – despite promising so much, they ended the season heart-broken and empty handed. Their 1994 triumph in Copengaen is still their second – and last – European trophy.
Cologne is the start of a long road ahead to next May’s final in Lyon. Not many Arsenal fans will be holding their breath over their luck in the quest for the European trophy they last contested – and lost – 17 long years ago.