9th August 1997: Overmars, Petit, Grimandi start first game v. Leeds managed by Graham.

By Tony Attwood

9th August 1997:  Overmars, Petit and Grimandi all start their first game for Arsenal.  And of all people to play: Leeds United managed by G Graham Esq.  At Elland Road.

Did we know these men: Overmars, Petit and Grimandi?  No – well at least I didn’t.  Did we know that Petit / Vieira would be one of those partnerships that 15 years later we would still drool over?  Certainly not.

Our team was


Winterburn  Bould  Grimandi Garde

Overmars (Hughes) Vieira (Platt) Petit  Parlour

Wright Bergkamp


Where are they now?  Seaman is I think doing a bit of stuff with Wembley FC, and I think Parlour is there too.  Bould and Grimandi are still with us, Bould sitting with Mr Wenger, Grimandi endlessly prowling France for the next big find.

Reme Garde manages Lyon, Overmars is in the Netherlands I think helping a team, Vieira at Man C, and Bergkamp with Ajax.   Wright of course is a media prat, as for the rest I am not too sure just now.  Help me out guys!

With new faces in the team it wasn’t a great start to the season – we took the lead and Leeds equalised before half time.

The commentators were their inevitable English-is-best selves, criticising all these foreign players who “don’t know how the game is played here” – Grimandi coming in for quite a pasting despite providing a beautiful pass to Wright for the goal.

The interesting point of course is where these two clubs are now – and the journey they have taken.  At the time of this match Leeds were up there with the big boys, and with Graham in charge there was hope that they could win something.  As for Arsenal, well, what does this Frenchman who has been in Japan know about football in England?


The Great History of Arsenal Competition:Complete with lovely prizes

The cover of the first ever match day programme at Highbury

From Plumstead to Islington – the chronology

Arsenal’s Anniversaries

Ordinary is Pointless


4 Replies to “9th August 1997: Overmars, Petit, Grimandi start first game v. Leeds managed by Graham.”

  1. Well, Platt is coaching Man City and he recently did an amazing overhead goal in training.

  2. It was Wenger then at Monaco that persuade the skilful Glen Hoddle to leave his beloved N17 and play his skills for Monaco.
    We know that Arsene visited Arsenal while manager of Monaco but did he ever visit N17 in those days?

  3. After the game George Graham said that that Arsenal team had something special about them and said they would go on to win something that season. A shrewd judge was George.

    Also, the shape of things to come. Arsenal started the game with 4 French players. Man Utd’s mate Dermot Gallagher booked all 4 of them.

  4. I had watched Petit and Grimandi before they joined Arsenal. I had a patriotic duty to do so – Bosnian defender Muhamed Konjić (later of Coventry) played for very interesting AS Monaco team and I wanted to see how Mo was doing. When I say interesting, I mean they had so much talent in their attack – two youngsters Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, Nigerian Victor Ikpeba and Croatian Robert Špehar (Walter might have seen Špehar while he had played for Club Brugge) with an interesting bald goalkeeper Fabien Barthez – which relationship with Linda Evangelista was one of the mysteries I couldn’t solve as a 14-year-old boy.

    Overmars, on the other hand, was a huge player. He was an important member of the most frightening team I’ve ever seen – Ajax 1994-96. I had had high hopes for him and most of them came true. He had been my favourite Arsenal player before he left for Barcelona.

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