EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal legend Bob Wilson relives the 1970 Fairs Cup final
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson spoke exclusively to Islington Gazette sports reporter Dan Mountney about his memories of winning the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final, and what it takes to lift a European trophy ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League final clash against Chelsea next Wednesday.
Wilson started both legs of the final against Anderlecht, with the Gunners falling to a 3-1 defeat in Belgium before producing a stunning comeback at Highbury to lift the trophy, winning 3-0 thanks to two goals in as many minutes from John Radford and Jon Sammels just 15 minutes from the end.
The former goalkeeper, now 77, recalled both games vividly.
"I won the first ever European trophy in Arsenal history," said a smiling Wilson.
"It was a bit different because it was over two legs. We lost the first-leg 3-1. We were 3-0 down with five minutes to go and Ray Kennedy got a goal.
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"Our captain, Frank McLintock was badly affected by that defeat, and he suddenly came out the showers in the dressing room after the game saying 'we only need to win 2-0, we'll stuff them!' He was effing and blinding. He's out of the Gorbals in Glasgow is Frank so we all said 'you know what, he's right'.
"A week later at Highbury, it was one of the best games I've ever played in.
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"We went 2-0 up and then got a third, but they did hit the post which would have made it interesting if that had gone.
"It was Arsenal's first European trophy then the following year we went on to win the double."
Having lifted the Fairs Cup with Arsenal, Wilson knows what it takes to win a European trophy. The current crop of players will have their chance to do just that when they face Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29.
When asked about what it takes to triumph in Europe, Wilson said that a team needs leaders, something he believes the Gunners currently lack.
"As a side, I've always likened the best football sides to a jigsaw puzzle. You've got rough edges and smooth edges," he said.
"You've got your Hazard's in there, you've got Aubameyang and Lacazette, gifted, incredible to the eye artists. But in there, you've got to get some grit.
"You've got to get Tony Adams, you've got to get Frank McLintock, you've got to get Patrick Vieira, you've got to get winners. Then the smooth edges slot together. You've got to have leaders.
"I think sadly, that's what's been missing from our Arsenal squad in recent years. I know Petr Cech is a leader, he's about to leave but that's not enough.
"If Frank McLintock, for example, was having a bad day, the rest of us would bail him out and that's what is required.
"It's like a jigsaw and you've got to be like a family. You've got to be able to take criticism bang on the nose saying 'Willow, you didn't come for that ball, that goal is your responsibility'.
"You've got to take it on the nose and don't come back arguing. You just become a real winning unit that way."