Arsenal's Invincibles: Where Are They Now?
The Gunners became only the second team in the long history of English league football to complete an entire season without a loss. Preston North End accomplished this feat way back in 1888-89. The fact that it took over 100 years to equal that run shows how difficult an achievement this is.
The members of the 2003-04 Arsenal squad earned the nickname "The Invincibles" and went on to extend the Gunners' unbeaten run to a record-breaking 49 games.
Twenty-two members of the club played a part in the 2003-04 unbeaten season. Here's a look at what those players are up to now.
Jens Lehmann was in goal for every one of Arsenal's 38 EPL matches during the 2003-04 campaign.
He left the club in 2008 and joined VFB Stuttgart. Lehmann made a surprising return to Arsenal for just one match in April of 2011.
These days Lehmann is keeping busy and is still involved in football.
He is currently working towards obtaining a coaching licence with the Welsh Football Association. He began his studies in his native Germany, but wanted the hands-on experience offered in the UK. In fact, Lehmann has recently been involved in some coaching activities with Arsenal's Academy.
His list of trophies won with the Blues includes:
- One Premier League title
- Four FA Cups
- One League Cup
- One Community Shield
- One Champions League title
- One Europa League title
In addition to football, Cole has been a regular in the British gossip columns due to his former relationship and marriage to Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy.
Lauren, whose full name is Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer, was a core part of the Invincibles' defense.
After six successful seasons in North London, the Cameroonian right back spent three years with Portsmouth. He retired from football in the spring of 2010 after making five appearances with Cordoba of Spain's Second Division.
Lauren currently lives in Seville, Spain.
Defender Sol Campbell played in all but three matches during Arsenal's unbeaten season.
After leaving Arsenal, Campbell had three successful years with Portsmouth followed by an odd one-game experience with League Two side Notts County.
He returned to Arsenal for 11 matches in 2010. Campbell then joined Newcastle United for the 2010-11 season but only made seven appearances.
Since retirement Campbell has remained active in his charity organization Kids Go Live which allows inner city children to attend live sports events.
Campbell is currently working towards earning his coaching badges and has spent some time around the coaching staff at Arsenal's London Colney training ground.
Campbell has been very vocal regarding the problem of racism in football and has hinted he may begin his coaching career abroad.
I want to start abroad, there are no opportunities for me here, not until attitudes change anyway. Everyone has to ask themselves why there are not more black managers in this country and why the likes of Brian Dean have to go abroad to get a chance. I've spoken to other black players who want to coach and they feel the same, that attitudes here are archaic. I hope and pray the environment changes.
Campbell got married in 2010 to to Fiona Barratt who works as an interior designer.
Central defender Kolo Toure was an integral part of the Invincibles and played in all but two of their EPL fixtures that season.
Toure then went on to enjoy success as part of Manchester City's new era. He was a part of the team that won the 2011-12 title, the 2011 FA Cup and the 2012 Community Shield.
In March of 2011 Toure was suspended for six months after failing a drug test. Upon his return to Manchester City, he was used mostly as a substitute as he fell out of favor.
Toure joined Liverpool this past summer on a free transfer and is being used regularly thus far.
The seemingly ageless Toure is in his 14th season as a member of the Ivory Coast national team which just qualified for next summer's World Cup.
Toure was married in June of 2012 and has both a son and a daughter.
It still seems odd seeing Patrick Vieira representing Manchester City. He moved to the blue half of Manchester after bossing Arsenal's midfield for 279 matches.
Vieira finished his playing career with Manchester City at the end of the 2010-11 season. He now serves as the club's Football Development Executive.
This past spring he was named the squad manager for Manchester City's reserves and Elite Development teams.
Vieira has expressed his interest in transitioning into coaching and has already earned his UEFA B licence.
Pires has been training with the Arsenal squad this season. While he is not planning a return to the EPL, the Frenchman has agreed to participate in the upcoming Indian Super League Tournament. The league's goal is to raise India's interest in football by combining international players with local talent. The tournament was recently pushed back to the later part of 2014.
Pires is also involved in charitable work and serves as an ambassador for Grassroot Soccer. The organization uses the sport of football to educate youth in Africa about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.
Pires is married to French model Jessica Lemarie and the couple have two children.
Winger Freddie Ljungberg was one of Arsenal's most popular players and his red striped hair was symbolic of the Invincibles era. The We Love You Freddie chant was a mainstay with the fans throughout his time with the club.
He retired from football in August 2012.
Earlier this year, Ljungberg returned to Arsenal to serve as an ambassador for the club. As reported in the Daily Mail, he expressed his excitement at the new role.
I'm honoured to take on this ambassadorial role. The Club has a special place in my heart as everyone knows and I’m looking forward to helping the Club grow.
Like Pires, Ljungberg is scheduled to be a part of the Indian Premier League Tournament in 2014.
Ray Parlour has remained very busy since leaving Arsenal.
Parlour put on his boots again in 2012 as he and a number of other retired legends agreed to play for semi-professional club Wembley FC in their FA Cup pursuit. Unfortunately, the team did not make it through the preliminary round.
Eduardo César Daude Gaspar, or Edu, is back in Brazil and is currently the Director of Football for his first club Corinthians. He has been in this position for two years.
Edu made 100 appearances for Arsenal and started in midfield for 30 of the club's 2003-04 matches.
He left Arsenal on a free transfer in May of 2005 to join Valencia in La Liga. After four years in Spain, Edu returned to Corinthians. He played in 11 matches before announcing his retirement as a player in 2010.
Edu is married and has both a son and a daughter.
Like Edu, Gliberto Silva is currently living back in Brazil.
Gilberto was an important piece of the Invincibles' midfield. He played in 32 of the club's 38 league matches that season.
His best campaign in an Arsenal jersey came in 2006-07. In addition to serving as the club's vice-captain that season, Gilberto scored 10 goals and made 34 league starts.
Gilberto next headed to Athens where he made 78 appearances for Panathinaikos.
Although he only made the bench, Gilberto was a part of the Atletico squad that won the Copa Libertadores this past summer.
After 315 appearances, 87 goals, three Premier League titles, four FA Cup trophies and four Community Shield victories, Bergkamp retired upon completion of the 2005-06 season.
He did pull on an Arsenal jersey one more time as part of the club's testimonial held in his honor in July of 2006. It was the first match ever played at Arsenal's new stadium.
Bergkamp studied for his coaching credentials back in Holland and is currently serving as assistant manager for his boyhood club Ajax.
Bergkamp has been married since 1993 and has four children.
As most football fans know, Henry left Arsenal for three seasons with Barcelona before moving stateside. Of course he did return to Arsenal on loan in early 2012 to add to his goalscoring tally.
In December 2011, a ceremony was held outside the Emirates where a bronze statue of Henry's memorable goal celebration in a game vs. Tottenham was revealed.
Despite not advancing past the the Eastern Conference semifinals in the current MLS playoffs, Henry, Tim Cahill and the Red Bulls picked up the franchise's first trophy. With the best regular season record, the Red Bulls were winner of the MLS Supporters' Shield.
Henry retired from the French national team following France's disastrous 2010 World Cup. He finished his international career with 123 caps and 51 goals.
Henry's profile has increases in the states with appearances alongside Roger Federer and Tiger Woods in commercials for Gillette. He is also often spotted at NBA games involving his good friend and San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker.
Henry works with Nike on its anti-racism campaign Stand Up, Speak Up.
He is divorced and has a young daughter.
Not surprisingly, news out of London this week reports Henry is back training with Arsenal.
The Rest of the Squad
Here's an update on squad members that played in at least one of Arsenal's 2003-04 EPL matches:
- Martin Keown works part time as a scout for Arsenal and has become a successful broadcaster in the U.K. He also currently writes a column for the Daily Mail.
- Pascal Cygan was never a very popular figure with Arsenal fans. The flawed player went on to spend three seasons with Villareal followed by two with Cartagena in Spain's second division. He seems to have kept a low profile since.
- Gael Clichy's career continues with Manchester City and the French national team.
- Justin Hoyte made just one EPL appearance for the Invincibles and never quite made it with Arsenal. He has gone on to play for Middlesbrough and is currently on loan with Millwall.
- Dubbed as the next David Beckham, David Bentley never quite made it as a successful footballer. He left Arsenal for Blackburn and then Tottenham. Bentley spent most of his time with Spurs out on loan. He is currently without a club.
- Jose Antonio Reyes joined Arsenal with a lot of hype and fanfare. He spent three seasons with the club while claiming he was homesick. He is back in Spain having played for Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Benfica of Portugal on loan. He is presently signed with Sevilla.
- Sylvain Wiltord is fondly remembered as part of a lethal strike force with Thierry Henry. Wiltford returned to France following his days with Arsenal. He spent time with Lyon, Rennes, Marseille, Metz and Nantes before retiring in June of 2012. He earned 92 caps for France.
- Nwankwo Kanu spent five successful years in North London. Afterwards, he went on to play for West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth. He is currently in a dispute with financially challenged Pompey over unpaid salary. Kanu played for the Nigerian national team for 16 seasons. He also serves as a UNICEF ambassador.
- Striker Jérémie Aliadière made 10 appearances for Arsenal in 2003-04. Unfortunately, he never panned out with the club. He was loaned out to Celtic, West Ham and Wolves before departing for Middlesbrough in 2007. He is now a member of Ligue 1 side Lorient.