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Silverware doesn't always sparkle

Silverware doesn't always sparkle

How you win trophies is more important than whether you win them Robin van Persie seemed to be saying as he arrived in South Africa to compete for the World Cup with the Dutch squad.

While there is some speculation that our recent trophy drought may affect the willingness of some players to stay with the club Robin seems to have a comfortingly mature outlook on the issue.

"I`m 26 and have won three trophies; the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup and the Charity Shield. Yes, I class that as a trophy too. It`s a one-off game with 80,000 people watching and a lot of pressure. I`ve always said that I want to win as many trophies as possible in my career, but not at any price.

"What I am trying to say is that I will work my socks off to get the maximum out of my career, but I won`t move to a club which does not play my style of football.

"Dennis Bergkamp is, in my eyes, still 'The Master'. The fact that he never won the Champions League, the European Championship or the World Cup does not take anything away from his greatness as a player."

It`s refreshing to hear that any player, many of whom are branded as mercenaries, can see beyond the collection of medals to appreciate that it`s what you do to earn them that can mark you out as a great player not simply the quantity of medals you have gained.

Liam Brady has legendary status at the club though he left at much the same age as Fabregas is seeking to leave us. Like Cesc he also only has the one FA Cup medal to show for his time here. So he left to find fame and fortune elsewhere but despite a couple of Serie A titles in Italy with Juventus he didn`t stay more than a couple of seasons anywhere and became something of a Serie A journeyman before ending up as part of a relegated West Ham side 10 years after he left the club. In truth he isn`t really feted anywhere more affectionately than at Arsenal, despite his Italian title medals and having spent the greater part of his professional playing career away from the club who, before his career ended, had picked up league cup and title trophies.

David Platt won more medals with Arsenal than Liam Brady did but doesn`t make anything like the same connection with most Arsenal fans. Teddy Sheringham won many more medals as a ManU player than George Best but his contributions to winning those trophies were on nothing like the same scale.

Thierry Henry has written his chapter large in the annals of Arsenal Football Club. His achievements and the memory of them can never be erased but for him too, that legendary status wasn`t enough as he went in pursuit of medals in Spain. He got them as anyone joining either Barcelona or Real are pretty well guaranteed in Spain to much the same extent that anyone playing for Celtic or Rangers are likely to pick up a few local medals at least. As Wenger observed recently "I cannot see anybody who has a competitive edge to [want to] go to Spain. They have two good teams, I confess that, but the No 3 is 27 points behind." Thierry won his medals in Spain as a squad player, a fact that might be lost as he tells the stories to his grandchildren but his contributions to those Spanish triumphs will live longer in his memory than they will of those of the club he won them with. Though he did start in a good proportion of the CL games and scored enough to feel contented with his role in their triumph the season before last he`ll know most Barca fans will probably still see it as Messi`s triumph.

Hlebs career at Barcelona hasn`t yet ended so it might be a little premature to say that his grandchildren will be surprised that he even played for Barca let alone won a treble with them. But if his career there is to end here then there`ll be little reason for Barca fans to remember him while he is also little more than a footnote in Arsenal`s history. Did his collection of Barca medals justify his decision to leave Arsenal? Not according to Hleb himself apparently. "When you mostly sit on the bench, winning titles brings very little joy, while getting to the last eight of the Champions League with Arsenal was unforgettable" said the Belarus midfielder.

It`s a sentiment echoed by Gio van Bronkhorst about his time at Arsenal claiming recently that "During my time there Arsenal won the league twice plus two FA cups but it didn't feel as if they were my prizes."

I'd like to think it is possible to spend a fulfilling career at a club even if the trophy count is relatively small at the end of it. Though Robert Pires won a few trophies with us he has said that the ovation he received at the end of the CL game at the Emirates while wearing a Villareal shirt was a moment he`ll carry in his mind forever. Cesc said recently referring to Arsenal`s fans that "Sometimes not even in my house I've felt more loved than I've felt at Arsenal."

It`s probably a romantic notion but maybe there is more to gain that validates the silverware you would hope to win rather than just winning silverware itself. Without an important sense of being an integral part of the club and its triumphs maybe those trophies don`t always carry quite the same sheen.

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Date:Monday June 7 2010
Time: 10:32AM


A mix of the 2 is required, style and winning trophies for me. Barcelona & Real Madrid play his style of football and i imagine that if he keeps up his great form with less injuries one of them will get him unless we win something within the next 2-3 seasons.
07/06/2010 11:25:00
Wow. Have to say RVP's comments are very heartwarming indeed. I think with him its more a case of being able to play the style of football he wants as opposed to going somewhere just to win trophies. He wouldnt be able to play his free flowing football elsewhere as effectively as he does at Arsenal and it is good that he understands and embraces that. Also agree with what Hleb said in that if you are chronically warming the bench, can you really say that you majorly contributed to your teams on pitch success? I think he is truly regretting leaving Arsenal and now realises that the grass isnt always greener. Cesc should think long and hard about this too.
07/06/2010 11:28:00
Nice piece Amos. I recently attended a charity sporting event and Alan Shearer was the after dinner speaker. The room almost fell into an awkward silence when he was asked if he regretted turning down the silverware of Man Utd, for the trophyless years at Newcastle. " Not for one second " was his heart warming answer. His 'goal fest' days on Tyneside, without personal medals or trophys, were THE happiest days of his life. He want on to explain why he " would take the love of the fans and the pride in wearing the shirt over medals any day of the week ". Good man Alan.
Cockney Rich
07/06/2010 12:23:00
Wonder how many more articles are gonna have to be written to justify our failure on the pitch.....No one complained at our set up or brand of football in our last trophy (not including top 4 finishes, Arsene) the FA Cup.
07/06/2010 12:51:00
On the contrary that 2005 FA Cup win is often overlooked. The defeat in the CL in 2006 is remembered with much greater pride - quite rightly too.
07/06/2010 12:54:00
Hmm, pride, i'd say people look back upon it with more regret than anything else.
07/06/2010 13:05:00
Well written Amos, I always wonder how players can throw in the opportunity to become an 'immortal' with one club for the sake of a cheap fling with another. Of course, they have to look out for themselves but I really admire those players who commit to a club because it made them, and because they love playing there and are also loved by the fans.
07/06/2010 13:08:00
I don't think our "failure" needs "justifying". We're not a failure, we're a great club. Whilst it's great to win things, there is only a very very small minority of teams who actually win anything. Football, as in life, isn't always about the desination, its about the journey, and regarding Amos's comment on the 05 FA Cup and the 06 CL, I remember clearly every game and goal from that CL campaign and moments like Henry's goal at the Bernabeu, the final whistle at Highbury to Real Madrid, Pires tackle on Paddy, Cesc rise to the occasion, the first ever European Cup semi final goal at Highbury, the Squirell, Jens Penalty save, Jens' sending off, the euphoria of big Sol's goal, the deflation of the ultimate defeat ..... it all still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, but when we won the FA Cup in 2005 I remember van Persie scoring a couple of goals and then getting floored in the semi, and then us getting battered and winning on penalties in the final. All I want is to see is our players giving 100% every week and then I'll be happy. And for the majority of last season they were briliant at doing that, just a shame that the "colapse" of effort came right at the end.
07/06/2010 13:10:00
I look back on it with great pride SW, it was an unforgetable run, and I loved almost every minute of it. I'm sure if Rob can get a full season or two under his belt without any lengthy lay-off he will go down in Arsenal history. He's already scored some of the best goals we've ever seen scored by Arsenal players.
07/06/2010 13:12:00
Yes, the squirrel, now he was a legend. I even remember Senderous playing a great CL campaign. Nuff said.
07/06/2010 13:16:00
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