Football

Arsenal legend Lauren reveals he would repeat infamous Ruud Van Nistelrooy incident ‘every year’


Keown and other Arsenal players confronted Van Nistelrooy after the miss (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal hero Lauren has revisited the time the Gunners’ players confronted Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy after his infamous penalty miss in 2003 and defended their actions, saying he would do it again.

The feisty match during Arsenal’s famous Invincibles season was dubbed ‘The Battle of Old Trafford’ and despite finishing 0-0 was one of the spectacles of the season.

Arsene Wenger’s side were furious as they believed Van Nistelrooy feigned contact to get Patrick Vieira sent off for a second bookable offence.

In the final minute of the game, United were awarded a penalty, and after the Dutch striker smashed his strike against the bar, several Arsenal players – led by Martin Keown – surrounded the Red Devils player as a fracas ensued.

Despite right-back Lauren being suspended for four games and fined £40,000, he admitted he would do it all again, telling the Handbrake Off podcast: ‘People have asked me many times, “Would you do that again?”. I always say 120 per cent I will do it.

‘I don’t mind about the ban, the £40,000 fine. I don’t care, as long as I protect the people I care for, the people I share the dressing room with, the people I love.

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Lauren was a key part of the Invincibles team (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Because I always said when I came to Arsenal, I feel like they are my family. We had a very great batch of people.

‘It’s not only about the quality, because we had quality in players like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, a lot of great, great players, Kanu, but it was something like a bond.

‘We cared about each other on the pitch and outside of the pitch so I can consider Arsenal as my family, so therefore I will do whatever is necessary to protect my family.

‘In this case against United away from home, I think I would do it every single year if it’s necessary.’

In the aftermath, Arsenal were charged by the FA with ‘failing to ensure the proper behaviour of their players’ and fined £175,000.

Lauren, Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour were all suspended for between one and four matches for their involvement.

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