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'That will stay with me forever': 33-year-old admits Arsenal regret still haunts him

Sam Preston November 18, 2020
Footballer Johan Djourou Portrait
Photo by David Ashdown/Getty Images

Former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou says not winning a trophy in 2011 still nags him now.

In an interview with the Guardian, the 33-year-old Swiss defender talked about his lingering regret.

The Gunners lost 2-1 to Birmingham in that year’s EFL Cup and Djourou feels that side under Wenger was good enough to win something.

Arsenal’s trophy drought since the 2004 Invincibles season finally ended in 2013 with the FA Cup comeback win over Hull.


ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

“We lost the Carling Cup final and collapsed,” said Djourou. “Suddenly ‘boom boom boom’. So what’s it down to? We weren’t strong mentally? Maybe.

“Losing a final we were so sure we were going to win had such an impact that confidence went down? Maybe. Even if I can get over it, it doesn’t mean the next guy got over it. We’re human beings, not robots.

“I just think we were so good in 2011 that we deserved a trophy. It’s something that will stay with me for ever, I think.

“I had a good run with Laurent Koscielny. When people looked at the defence they’d say: ‘We don’t have Campbell, Keown, those names.’ Of course mistakes happened.”

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

So much was made of Arsenal’s failure to win a trophy under Wenger that the pressure to end that run became stifling.

What made it trickier were the financial constraints on Arsenal because of the new stadium.

That meant Wenger had to pick up cheaper players like Djourou and try and turn them into top players.

They often just came up short and it’s clear to see just how much that 2011 loss to Birmingham still rankles, almost a decade on.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.