World Football: Whatever Happened to Arsenal Defender Pascal Cygan?

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterMay 24, 2012

LONDON - DECEMBER 26:  Pascal Cygan of Arsenal holds back the challenge from Radostin Kishishev of Charlton during the Barclays Premiership match between Charlton and Arsenal at The Valley on December 26, 2005 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Of the 20 players who made at least eight appearances for Arsenal's undefeated Invincibles squad of 2003-04, Pascal Cygan must rank among the least memorable.

French forward Jeremie Aliadiere (eight appearances, seven as a substitute) did have a forgettable Arsenal career, but hardcore Gooners will remember the fanfare to which Arsenal signed him as a teenager in 1999.

Cygan, a French defender who turned 30 during the 2003-04 title run, appeared in more matches (18, eight as a substitute) than more illustrious teammates like Kanu, Martin Keown, Jose Antonio Reyes and Sylvain Wiltord.

Each of those players will jog the collective Arsenal memory to varying degrees. But what of Cygan?

LONDON - NOVEMBER 26:  Brett Emerton of Blackburn Rovers gets to grips with Pascal Cygan of Arsenal during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at Highbury on November 26, 2005 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/G
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Widely lampooned during his time in North London, the boldly bald Frenchman often seemed flat of foot and slow of pace. But he actually produced a few fine moments in red.

In his first match of the 2005-06 campaign (Arsenal's last at Highbury), Cygan scored twice in a 4-1 win over Fulham. Later that season he even—to the surprise of Gooners everywhere—made his way into the OPTA team of the week.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 4: Cygan of Villarreal during the match during the La Liga match between Espanyol and Villarreal, on March 4, 2007, played at the Lluis Companys stadium in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Bagu Blanco/Getty Images)
Bagu Blanco/Getty Images

So, then, whatever happened to Pascal Cygan?

Signed from Lille in the summer of 2002, Cygan was tipped for the French national team by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Sadly, Cygan never earned a cap for Les Bleus.

Cygan made 98 appearances for Arsenal from 2002-06 before being sold to Villarreal. There he joined former Arsenal teammate Robert Pires.

After three seasons with the Yellow Submarine, Cygan in 2009 joined newly promoted Cartagena in the Spanish Segunda Division.

Cygan retired from professional football in July 2011 at age 37.

During a 17-year professional career, Cygan won the French Second Division, the English Premier League, two FA Cups and two FA Community Shields.

Update: As commenter Miguel Ruiz points out, Cygan was the nearest defender when Barcelona's Ronaldinho scored with a bicycle kick against Villarreal in 2006. Thanks for the tip, Miguel.

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