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The best value transfer of all time.

The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.

Below you will find today’s feature, and then the list of anniversaries for today.

Today is the anniversary of the signing of Jens Lehman, the only member of the unbeaten season’s squad to play in every league game of that season.  What makes it so extraordinary is that he cost just £1.5m, although this rose with add-ons to £2.5m.

But it is extraordinary considering that the same summer we signed Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla for £17m, Senderos for £3m, Fabregas (as a 16 year old) for £2.5m and Gael Clichy as an 18 year old for around £200,000.

It must surely be one of the best value transfers of all time.

Here are the anniversaries…

25 July 1883: Joseph Lievesley born.  He played in goal for Poolsbrook United, and Sheffield United and was the unfortunate keeper to be in goal in an FA Cup first round replay on 16 January 1908 in which Swindon Town beat Sheffield United.  It was Swindon’s first win in the FA Cup proper for 20 years.  He later played in goal for the last ever Woolwich Arsenal match.

25 July 1909: Louis Charles Joseph Blériot made the first airplane flight across the English Channel and won a prize of £1000 from the Daily Mail.   He also developed the first practical headlamp for cars and was the the first to make a working, powered, piloted monoplane.

25 July 1910:  Woolwich Arsenal was formally taken over by Henry Norris and William Hall in a meeting at the Mortar Hotel, Woolwich.  It was chaired by George Leavey, who was confirmed as chairman of the new limited company with Henry Norris as a director at this stage.  The solicitor Arthur Gilbert, was installed as company secretary.

25 July 1921: On 25 July Arsenal published its annual report, showing itself at last back in profit, to the tune of £5434 – about £250,000 today (without taking into account the particular inflation that has occurred in football above and beyond in the country at large).

25 July 1945: Although the war was over and it had been announced that the FA Cup would resume in 1945/6 it was felt it would be impossible for football league clubs to get their teams back together with demobilisation still being a long way from completion.  On this day the league divided into North and South divisions although there was opposition to the plan.

25 July 1946: The four nations of the UK rejoined Fifa, having the organisation in 1928, after Fifa agreed to countries paying amateur footballers “broken time payments” in compensation for money that amateur athletes lost at work by competing in the Olympics.  The return was celebrated by a match between the UK and the Rest of Europe in May 1947 which the UK won 6-1. 

25 July 1972: Arsenal 2 Watford 0 (Kelly, George).  Playing Watford as the first pre-season game was a tradition of the time as Arsenal shared training facilities with Watford.  It was the first of four matches before the start of the campaign.

25 July 1983: John Lukic signed for the first time.  He transferred to Arsenal for £75,000 as a replacement for Pat Jennings and stayed at Arsenal until 1990 returning in 1996.

25 July 1987: Arsenal beat Morton 1-0 in Nigel Winterburn’s first game.  He went on to play 440 league games for Arsenal. 

25 July 1988: Steve Williams left Arsenal for Luton Town.  He was replaced in the team by Michael Thomas.

25 July 1992: First game for John Jensen and Ian Selley in a friendly v Byafossen.  Selly showed a lot of promise, but when he suffered a broken leg it affected his subsequent game and he spent his later career playing in non-league football.

25 July 1998: David Grondin signed from St Etienne. He made one Premier League, two League Cup and one UEFA Champions League appearance before going on loan to Cannes, Beveren and Dunfermline Athletic for whom he finally signed.  He ended his career in 2010 playing for Brussels.

25 July 1998: Double winners Arsenal drew 1-1 away to Luton, making it two draws and one defeat in the first three pre-season games.

25 July 2003: Jens Lehmann signed from Borussia Dortmund for £1.5m.  He went on to become the only goalkeeper ever in the top division to go a whole league season undefeated and later worked with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.  In retrospect £1.5m must be one of the bargains of all time.

25 July 2003: Arsenal beat Austria Wien 2-0 to record their first pre-season win after a defeat and two draws.  Bergkamp and Jeffers scored the goals.

25 July 2012: Pedro Botelho transferred to Atlético Paranaense.  He never played a league game for Arsenal but went on five separate loan deals after signing in 2007, prior to this transfer.  By 2018 he was back playing in Brazil

25 July 2015: Arsenal beat Lyon 6-0 in the Emirates Cup with goals from Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Ramsey, Ozil and Cazorla.  This was part of the run in which the club won every pre-season game.

25 July 2019, Arsenal completed the signing of French teenage centre-back William Saliba from Saint-Étienne for  £27 million. As part of the deal he was loaned back until 30 June 2020.  Arsenal also completed a season-long loan for midfielder Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid.

 


We currently have two books available.

“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” is the definitive history of Arsenal from its inception, and “Making the Arsenal” is a novel which tells the story of Arsenal in 1910.

Both books are now available on Kindle and in print.    Please see here for more details.   

On this site we have hundreds of series of articles on Arsenal history and a full list of the various series of articles on Arsenal’s history can be found here.    Three particular highlights are…

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

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