Arsenal Women's 2007 Champions League Winners: Who The Gunners Hope to Replicate Ahead of PSG Clash

Ali Rampling
Anita Asante, Gemma Davidson and Karen Carney celebrate Champions League glory
Anita Asante, Gemma Davidson and Karen Carney celebrate Champions League glory / Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Arsenal Women go into Saturday's Champions League quarter final with PSG as the last British team standing - and the only British team to have been crowned champions of Europe in the history of the women's game.

But while the women's game in the UK has transformed beyond recognition over the past decade - England have reached three successive major tournament semi finals and the WSL is a fully professional, competitive league - Arsenal won it before all that.

Before the glitz and the glamour, the Gunners squad of part-time players, meticulously assembled by Arsenal kit man Vic Akers, mixed it with the very best in the world to achieve the feat no British team has successfully replicated in 13 years.

This was an unbelievable Arsenal side, let's make no bones about that. They were the outrageously dominant force in the country, and as a result could cherry pick the very best talent from across the UK.

There was England captain Faye White at the heart of the defence, flanked by the Lionesses' first choice full backs Alex Scott and Mary Phillip. The tough tackling Katie Chapman and Wales captain Jayne Ludlow patrolled the middle - the latter Arsenal's all-time top goal scorer despite being a midfielder.

Rachel Yankey and Karen Carney provided further creative spark, while up front the Gunners boasted someone of truly world class quality in Kelly Smith.

The finest club side in English football history?
The finest club side in English football history? / Ian Walton/Getty Images

And knocking about in Vic Akers' backroom staff was a certain Emma Hayes.

But a team crawling with England internationals was not necessarily something to fear in 2007 - the Lionesses were going to the World Cup that summer, but this was the first time they had qualified in 12 years.

Arsenal progressed to the Champions League final with victory over Brondby, but were dealt a blow when Smith was sent off against their Danish opponents for sticking her middle finger up to the crowd. Their talisman was suspended for the final - while captain White was only deemed fit enough for the bench following an ACL injury sustained in pre-season.

The task was hard enough without the absence of their star player and leader. Arsenal faced Umea IK from Sweden, a professional side boasting the world's best player Marta and her Brazilian teammate Elaine, while teenage Swiss sensation Ramona Bachmann was among the substitutes.

The Champions League final was a two-legged affair at the time, and the underdogs snuck a 1-0 win thanks to a stunning solo effort from Scott in the 91st minute.

Arsenal took their slender 1-0 lead back to Boreham Wood and defended it with their lives. The post, the crossbar and goalkeeper Emma Byrne intervened, and remarkably their advantage remained intact. The Gunners were not accustomed to being underdogs, but they had pulled off quite the cup romance to make history.

This is the team of pioneers Arsenal are looking to replicate in the Champions League in 2020. Should they do so, it would be an extraordinary achievement given the strength of European heavyweights Lyon and Wolfsburg.

But the manner in which Arsenal did it in 2007 - while not training full time, while playing in a non-competitive league that they would win at a canter year after year, facing a two-time Champions League winner in the final, the absence of Kelly Smith and playing a final across two legs to hamper the chance of an underdog triumphing - is nothing short of miraculous.


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