Ex-Arsenal defender Gael Clichy: Villarreal penalty was my low point

Manchester City's Gael Clichy feels the worst moment of his career came in Arsenal's goalless draw with Villarreal in 2006

gael clichy
Gael Clichy joined Manchester City from Arsenal last summer Photo: Etihad Airways

gael clichy

Gael Clichy says conceding a last-minute penalty in Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final against Villarreal in 2006 was the worst moment of his career to date.

The 26-year-old moved to the Manchester City in a £7m deal last summer after making 264 appearances for Arsenal in an eight-year career at the north London club.

The France international was part of the Arsenal side that won the Premier League unbeaten in 2004 but narrowly missed out on claiming a second winners’ medal with the Gunners in 2007-08.

With Arsenal top of the table in February 2008, Clichy’s foul resulted in Birmingham City’s James McFadden scoring an injury-time penalty to secure a 2-2 draw at St Andrew’s.

The Gunners’ title challenge crumbled following the result and Manchester United went on to win the league.

But the defender feels the most disappointing moment of his career was in the second leg of the European semi-final at Villarreal two years earlier.

With Arsenal leading 1-0 from the first leg, Clichy’s foul on Jose Mari resulted in a penalty deep into added time, with the English side agonisingly close to sealing a goalless draw.

However, Jens Lehmann came to Clichy’s rescue and saved Juan Román Riquelme’s spot-kick to book Arsenal’s place in the final in Paris, where Arsene Wenger’s side went on to lose 2-1 to Barcelona.

“It [the worst moment in my career] would be the semi-final of the Champions League when I was with Arsenal, when we played Villarreal away,” Clichy told City’s website.

“In the final five minutes of the game we conceded a penalty, which wasn’t a penalty, and it was me who made the foul.

“At that moment you feel a bit lonely – if they score, they go through, so I think this moment would be my worst.”

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