Those of you who know me know I’m really not a nostalgic person. I hate looking backwards, for the most part, because the past already happened; I’m more excited about the future than I am reflective about the past. As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal as a sports fan - so much of sports is backwards-looking (often to its detriment) that it makes for interesting conversations when someone says to me “hey remember that one game when....”, because I generally don’t, or don’t place the same importance on it as some do.
There are exceptions to this, of course - I’m not a (complete) monster. And two of the biggest exceptions to this for me were playing in a charity match yesterday for Arsenal, as an Arsenal Legends team faced off against an AC Milan legends team to benefit the Arsenal Foundation. First and most awesomely, they raised a MILLION POUNDS! That, to me, speaks of how much people actually loved these players - on an off Saturday, when people probably had yardwork or house projects or whatever actual-life things to do, the Emirates was sold out for a game full of old men (and Kolo Toure).
One of the exceptions I mentioned in that last paragraph had, as they say, the first bite of the apple yesterday, as Marc Overmars took the ball and ran it all the way down the pitch, only to put it over the bar. Of all the legendary players Arsene has signed and developed over the years, I think Marc Overmars was one of my favoritse - he never gets any recognition now, but he was so integral to the success of the late 90’s Arsenal teams and he was a joy to watch.
Why? Speed to burn, and if his passing wasn’t as good as Bergkamp’s it wasn’t all that far off. Scored a bit, too (25 goals in 100 appearances). He was just one of those guys your eye was always drawn to in a game, because he was always making great runs or picking out great passes. I was excited to see him mentioned in the pregame buildup on Friday, and it was great to see him in red and white again.
Another fan favorite - and another one of my favorites - who played a very significant part yesterday was Nwankwo Kanu. He played from 1999-2004, and if there was ever anyone who embodied how much fun it must be to play the game you love as a grownup person, it’s Kanu. Seemingly all legs and arms, he had a knack for popping up at the right place at the right time and scoring a timely goal or three (I mean...that third goal. Wow.).
And guess who scored another hat trick yesterday? Well, it’s right there in the headline so if you can’t guess it by now you may need some help. Anyway, Kanu hat-tricked again yesterday, and Robert Pires (seriously, all these guys are exceptions to my list) added a fourth to beat Milan, featuring the likes of Cafu, Marcel Desailly, Paolo Maldini, and Paolo di Canio.
All in all, it was a fantastic afternoon and it was in support of a fantastic cause - you can read more about it here, and see extended highlights of it here.