Arsenal signings are usually fresher than the 27 years behind a midfield powerhouse signed from 1860 Munchen in June 1999. Fans paused for breath with anticipation all summer. Would they really see the iconic German donned out in the famous red and white? Queues sloped up Avenell Road, people desperate for a glimpse of the new singing, the no.19 freshly printed on the back of their new shirts. Above that... 'MALZ'. Some even went the extra mile, having Premier League badges added. On both sleeves, such was the excitement upon the arrival of the recently voted Hinrunde** 1998/1999.
I put more effort into that game than he did after spending 24 hours on a f***ing coach (young and skint) getting to Copenhagen
The buzz built as Arsene waited patiently before giving him his bow, fully aware he was dealing with a precious talent. He judged the Worthington Cup tie against Preston North End to be a fitting occasion. Highbury was packed to nowhere near capacity with fifteen thousand devotees, who by October, were now craving some Malz. And then there he was. All curtains and flair. He couldn't let them down, and he didn't. Not on his debut anyway. Malz grabbed the winning goal in spectacular fashion, striking a volley into the ground so hard, and cleverly, that it bounced up and into the far corner. The people had seen what they came for and Arsene focused praise on the summer signing.
He went on to make eight appearances over the next couple of years, but was always one for the big occasions. In November, he grabbed the third goal in our hugely important win against the mighty Real Madrid. In Lee Dixon's testimonial.
Queues sloped up Avenell Road, people desperate for a glimpse of the new singing, the no.19 freshly printed on the back of their new shirts. Above that... 'MALZ'
In the even more meaningless final game of the 1999/2000 season, he grabbed an equalising goal in a 4-2 defeat at Newcastle, breaking into the area, almost Messi-like, from the right hand side, holding off a defender before tucking it into the far corner with his left foot, and I'm not even sure he was left footed. You can watch it 30 seconds into this Youtube clip.
The following weekend we faced Galatasaray in the Uefa Cup Final. On this occasion he was an unused substitute as we lost on penalties to the Turkish side. But Malz still got a runners-up medal, and I want it. I put more effort into that game than he did after spending 24 hours on a f***ing coach (young and skint) getting to Copenhagen via the worst pile up in German motorway history. What did he do?
And then there he was. All curtains and flair.
Malz was sold to Kaiserslautern in a multi thousand pounds deal in 2001, leaving Gooners everywhere broken hearted and evoking memories of Brady's departure to Juventus. Strangely, he never really made the grade at Kaiserslautern either, appearing just 16 times in five years. He was last seen playing with a Petit pony tail in the lower reaches of German football and remains the only player to have played for the Arsenal and FSV Oggersheim. But what a debut.
** Hinrunde. This, of course, means he was voted the best player in the first part of the Bundesliga season.
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