Nearly ten years since his departure from Arsenal, it might come as a surprise to some to hear that Gael Clichy is still playing. The now 34-year-old former French international is currently playing for İstanbul Başakşehir alongside other notable names such as former Newcastle and Chelsea man Demba Ba, formerly of Liverpool Martin Škrtel, Eljero Elia and former Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan star Robinho.
Starting his professional career at Cannes, Clichy only made 15 appearances for the French club before being swiftly signed by Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, who Clichy had caught the eye of in 2003. Clichy made in total 264 appearances for Arsenal and was a member of The Invincibles in his debut season at the Gunners. Aside from his debut season and the 2004 Community Shield triumph in the following season, Clichy failed to lift silverware with Arsenal again, famously ending up on the loosing side in the 2011 Carling Cup Final loss to Birmingham City. But don’t let the lack of Silverware (at Arsenal) post 2004 deceive you, Clichy was a fantastic player at his peak.
HIS ARSENAL CAREER:
Gael Clichy played at Arsenal from 2003 until 2011, making 264 appearances for the club in that timespan. The Frenchman made an wholesome impact at Arsenal with his consistency and by tirelessly appearing and putting in solid shifts at the back. Bar one season (2009-10) where he made 33 appearances, Clichy made 40+ appearances in every season, from 2006-07 to 2010-11.
In other words, for five consecutive seasons Clichy made over 30 appearances, which speaks volumes about his consistency in both being able to play a high volume of games in a season and in keeping himself fit and injury-free.
For good or bad, Gael Clichy will forever be associated with Arsenal’s failed title bid in the 2007-08 season. Sadly, one of Clichy’s defining moments at Arsenal was when he gave away a stoppage time penalty in a famous away match against Birmingham.
The penalty was converted and combined with Eduardo’s tragic injury and Gallas’s disgraceful tantrum at the referees decision, it all effectively ended Arsenal’s title challenge for that season.
Some of Clichy’s best moments in an Arsenal shirt came in the 2007-08 season. One of his best, if not the very best season at the club. He played 49 games in the 2007–08 season and his consistency that season was rewarded with a place in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2007/08 season.
One personal defining moment from Clichy’s Arsenal days, for me is when he chipped the ball up for Robin van Persie to volley into the back of the net for the opening goal in our famous 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona.
Having won the Premier League title with two different teams and being coached by some of the best managers in Football such as Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola it is clear Clichy has experienced a fantastic career that some can only envy at.
Having been the last member of The Invincibles to leave Arsenal, Clichy recently spoke out about his departure stating ‘
‘I don’t think they wanted me to leave but I didn’t feel at the time that they wanted me to stay”
”Seeing that for those last few years where we hadn’t won anything, it was down to me as the player and I thought that maybe it was time to break the circle”.
Overall in his playing career at England, Clichy won three Premier League titles with Arsenal and Manchester City together and won two League Cups with Manchester City.
As mentioned previously Clichy is currently playing for İstanbul Başakşehir who are challenging for the Turkish Süper Lig title and at the time of writing, hold a small 1-0 advantage over F.C. Copenhagen in the Europa League round of 16.
It’s not too hard to envision that we could see a potential Europa League quarter or semi-final run happen for Clichy and his team, and we could even see Gael Clichy square up against old rivals Manchester United!