When I was 8 years old there was only one player I wanted to be. I used to play on either wing for my local side, and I was a mad Arsenal fan even then. Therefore that player had to be Anders Limpar. A silky smooth winger, that was very skilful and had a great change of pace. Tricky would be a good way to describe him.
When English football was at its best in 50 years in 1990, the Arsenal management led by George Graham were also in Italy looking to add to the squad. Having played professional football (albeit it for lower league sides) since 1981 Anders made his break through at Cremonese in 1989-90. That season he made 24 appearances, scoring 3 goals and managed to get the attention as someone Arsenal wanted in their side.
He signed that summer for the Gunners at the age of 25.
Limpar in his 4 years at the club enjoyed a lot of success. In his first game he won the Charity Shield, he won the league title in his second season, and in his third he won the FA Cup and Coca Cola cup double. Then in his final year Arsenal won the Cup Winners Cup in the Alan Smith 1-0 winning final against Parma in Copenhagen. This was a game, however, that Limpar was not part of, as he’d been sold 2 months earlier on transfer deadline day to Everton.
Later in Limpar’s career, he spoke about the time he had under George Graham, memorably saying “playing for him was like living in Iraq under Saddam.”
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He spoke of the time when he overheard David Rocastle was told he was leaving Arsenal. He said “You would turn up for training one day and he would call a player into his “room”, although it wasn’t a room because everyone could hear what he was saying…
Graham told Rocastle: “I have sold you to Leeds,” to which the player replied: “I don’t want to join Leeds.”
“Well, you just have to pack your bag and leave,” his manager responded.
Limpar went onto say “What a swine. I have never seen a guy like that with tears running down his cheeks, he had been at Arsenal since he was 16. He was sold to Leeds.”
Reading that it makes you realise how ruthless Gorgeous George was. David Rocastle a legend of Arsenal… I wonder if over the years and with the fate of that certain player does Graham look back with regret perhaps on that decision? .. I somehow doubt it.
Limpar had a similar exit from the club. He was called into Graham’s office where George had told him he was going to be sold to Manchester City. Limpar said that he’d rather fight for his place in the Arsenal team and will sign a new contract. Graham had other plans, and apparently did not even shake Limpar’s hand when he left the club.
In the car on the way to Manchester, Limpar’s agent received a call from Everton and he eventually signed for them.
At Everton, Limpar played 66 times scoring 5 goals. He was part of the team that won the 1995 FA Cup Final and was instrumental with his run leading up to the goal.
Limpar left Everton in 1997, and continued playing until 2008. He ended his career having represented his National side Sweden over 50 times and was part of one of their most successful squads when reaching 3rd place in the 1994 USA World cup.
Later in his personal life Limpar was part of a hoax on Swedish TV where he was fooled into believing that he had travelled 2 years into the future in a time machine. Honestly it sounds crazy, but I have seen this on YouTube. (I tried to find the clip but couldn’t locate – if anyone finds it please comment below!).
Limpar then opened a bar in central Stockholm called The Limp Bar, which has since closed, and he is now CEO of the online betting site Best Bet Today.
Anders – I can honestly say I used to love the way you played the game in an Arsenal shirt. You were one of my favourite players for the four years you were at the club which was 25 years ago since you signed.
I hope wherever you are you are enjoying life. You have a permanent place in Arsenal folklore.