Sol Campbell and Ray Parlour unveil new Arsenal PUMA kits in Mumbai, talk about Invincibles
- More than 2,000 Arsenal fans were present at Mehboob Studios, Mumbai to witness the two legends launch the new kits
“Nobody will finish above us in the League,” Arsene Wenger had told reporters in the year 2002. “It wouldn't surprise me if we went unbeaten for the whole season.”
The prophecy came true only a year later but come it did. The mighty Gunners of 2003/04 went through the entire season without dropping a single Premiership game to not only be crowned the Barclays Premier League champions but to earn the title of The Invincibles. And Mumbai was home to two of the Invincibles – Sol Campbell and Ray Parlour – on 21 July 2015 as part of the Puma-Arsenal home and away jersey kit launch extravaganza that also saw the Invincibles documentary being aired in Asia for the first time.
More than 2,000 Arsenal fans were present at Mehboob Studios, Mumbai to witness the two legends launch the new kits with Puma India MD Mr. Abhishek Ganguly. The opportunity to get up, close and personal with players of the stature of Sol Campbell and Ray Parlour was an experience in itself for everyone present.
The players fielded questions from fans and media alike and we bring to you some of the highlights from this ‘Interaction with the Invincibles’.
Journey through the Invincible 2003/04 season
“You always dream of winning the Premiership at the start of the season and it was fantastic to be in a team that you knew had a chance to do so at the beginning of the season. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way, but that particular season, it did.
“There were ups and downs, of course. My father passed away during that season, which was tough for me. However, we had a great team with great depth and it was a fantastic journey. And winning the title at White Hart Lane was unbelievable!” – Sol Campbell
On signing Petr Cech
“I think Petr Cech is a fantastic signing! I played with keepers like David Seaman and Jens Lehmann who were great keepers and this signing could save Arsenal at least 10-12 points next season, which may be just enough to win the league.” – Ray Parlour
Unforgettable matches from the Invincible season
‘I think the away game at Old Trafford stands out for me because of that dubious penalty. It was a defining moment when the penalty shot hit the bar for, you know, if they had scored that goal with only two minutes to go – the match was finished for us! And who can forget that famous chop by Martin Keown during that match.” – Sol Campbell
“Probably the Liverpool game as well that took place after we had lost in the Champions League and FA Cup. Thierry Henry scored that hat-trick against Liverpool and that was a great moment. And obviously, winning the league at White Hart Lane! Sol certainly enjoyed doing that (chuckles).
“That was a great moment for the rivalry between the two teams was very intense and to win the league there. I’ve never seen a stadium get empty so quickly!” – Ray Parlour
“I think the fans were just getting frustrated, but they should have really given Arsène the benefit of doubt. Some of the altercations last season were really over the top and for a man who has done so much I think they should have given him the benefit of doubt and seen how he progressed over the season.
The back end of our last season was incredible! They won each time, were consistent and topped it off by winning the FA Cup. Yes, we got to do better in the League, but at least this is a start and improvement from the years when Arsenal won absolutely nothing.
They should have, thus, given Arsène the time and judged him at the end of the season rather than at the start or midway through the season.” – Sol Campbell
Can Arsenal mount a title challenge this year? Who are the players to watch out for?
“They definitely need a centre-forward to change the frequency up front – someone who can give something different. Hopefully, [Alexis] Sanchez continues his good run from last season. He is definitely the first player in my eyes who has come to Arsenal and hit the ground running.” – Sol Campbell
“Consistency is the key to winning leagues. You can’t play exceptionally well one week and then poorly the next, and expect to win the League. Alexis Sanchez needs to stand up this season as well and [Mesut] Ozil has got to do better. I think it’ll be a big season for Jack Wilshere and I am really hoping he can stay fit for he is a quality player.
And that midfield area has so much competition – you got [Aaron] Ramsey and [Santi] Cazorla. [Hector] Bellerin has been superb and [Laurent] Koscielny has been our best defender. They have got a lot of good players – it’s just about pulling it all together and getting the team to go out every single week and put the performance in.” – Ray Parlour
Massive Arsenal fan base in Mumbai
“This is my first visit to India and I am having a great time! I love Indian food, the hospitality has been superb and it is remarkable to see how many people have come out today to watch this.
“I appreciate the support you have given me over the years and I am sure the current squad appreciates your efforts, too. I will tell them personally how many supporters they have in Mumbai.” – Ray Parlour
Indian football and the future
“India has a bright future in football. Football begins in the streets; hence, football in India has to pick up from the grass-root level. The youth need to be encouraged and a structure needs to be set in place in order to develop and hone the talent and skills present among the youth, today.” – Sol Campbell
From the ribbing of Sol Campbell with regards to his connection with Tottenham Hotspur to the loud cheers and chants that echoed in the auditorium every few minutes – meeting two of the biggest Arsenal legends was a dream come true for every Gooner.Published 22 Jul 2015, 12:51 IST