It was, understandably, a move that made waves and fuelled the flames of the Gunners’ long-running rivalry with fellow north Londoners Tottenham.
A now-famous picture emerged of the squad on Spurs’ pitch, with Thierry Henry lying on a ‘champions’ flag and Ashley Cole clutching an inflatable trophy.
But what are Arsenal’s legendary players up to now? It has been a topsy-turvy year for plenty of them – so Sportsmail has decided to take a look as the two teams prepare to face off once more in the Premier League this weekend…
Arsenal’s impressive 2003-04 side posed for a snap at White Hart Lane after winning the title
Although tucked away at the back of the photo, Dennis Bergkamp’s presence that season was important as he played 28 times in the league. In recent years, the Dutchman has taken a back-seat and even recently admitted: ‘I don’t watch that much football by the way.’ He coached the first-team at Ajax for six years, and most recently was helping out unpaid at Almere City in the Dutch second tier.
Club legend Sol Campbell, pictured looking delighted on the left of the Invincibles snap, has just left a high-profile job at League Two Macclesfield. It was a difficult season for the former England defender, as he operated with little-to-no budget but still managed to steer the side to safety in the fourth tier. He later spoke of his tears after the last match of the season as they staved off relegation, but he left the club by mutual consent earlier this month and is currently out of work.
Sol Campbell had a big season at Macclesfield, saving them from relegation, but has now left
A real leader as a player, it is perhaps no surprise that Patrick Vieira moved into coaching. He started in Man City’s academy, before heading to New York City, and now he’s back in his homeland with Nice. It all started terribly, with 6-1 and 8-1 defeats in pre-season (against Burnley and Wolfsburg) but perhaps they were saving their big performances for Ligue 1. Nice have won their first two and are in fine form.
Ray Parlour is a regular talkSPORT presenter and made headlines in the papers this week
The Romford Pele played 22 times in the league for Arsenal that season, and was front and centre of the famous photo. After retiring a few years later following a stint at Middlesbrough, he has made a name for himself in punditry, appearing regularly on talkSPORT and around the after-dinner speaker circuit. He made headlines this week when he was videoed falling asleep on the tube after a few drinks with his radio colleagues.
A rock in Arsene Wenger’s midfield, Gilberto Silva now regularly pops up around the world in his various guises. His last officially-listed job was as a technical director at Panathanaikos, which he left after seven months at the end of 2016. He played a big part in Fred’s move to Manchester United and has been a regular advisor and friend to his Brazilian counterpart. He visited Tomas Rosicky at Sparta Prague in August, Sol Campbell a week later in London, and still works as an ambassador for Arsenal.
Fourteen goals in the Invincibles season secured Robert Pires’ legend status at Arsenal. After leaving the club in 2006, he headed to Villarreal, Villa and latterly India, where he finished his career with FC Goa in 2016. He is still an ambassador at Arsenal and holds an informal coaching role in the club’s academy.
Robert Pires is still a regular at Arsenal’s training ground and holds a coaching role at the club
Although in the latter stages of his career by the time the Invincibles came around, Keown was undoubtedly a big player in the dressing room if not always on the pitch in 2003-04. After retiring a couple of years later, he tried his hand at coaching but is now better known for his punditry. He regularly appears on Match of the Day and BT Sport, and writes a regular column for Sportsmail.
Thierry Henry suffered a torrid time in his first management role at Monaco last season
The poster boy of the Invincibles, pictured lying across the front of the photo on a ‘champions’ flag with one hand on the inflatable trophy. Since his retirement, Henry has remained in the consciousness of English football fans, regularly appearing on Sky Sports as a pundit, before he turned his hand to management. He went to Monaco in October 2018, but struggled as the club picked up defeat after defeat. He was dismissed in January with a record of four wins, five draws and 11 defeats.
The only man to start every one of Arsenal’s Invincibles season, Jens Lehmann enjoyed a stellar career before hanging up his gloves in 2011. Since retiring, he has tried his hand at plenty of things – including coaching and punditry – while he also had a degree from the University of Manchester. He coached at Arsenal before Unai Emery’s arrival, and was assistant coach at Augsburg earlier this year before the entire coaching staff were sacked just three months into their tenure.
Jose Antonio Reyes
The Spaniard played in 13 Premier League matches for Arsenal in their title-winning campaign, before featuring for eight more clubs in his impressive career. He was still playing – for Extramadura in Spain’s second tier – when tragedy struck in June. Reyes was killed in a car crash that also took the life of his cousin Jonathan and seriously injured another in Juan Manuel Calderon. His squad number was retired and many of his old Arsenal team-mates have since paid tribute to him as a player and a man.
Tributes from fans and former team-mates poured in following Jose Antonio Reyes’ death
After only missing one match of the Invincibles season, Kolo Toure went on to play for Manchester City, Liverpool and Celtic – where he won league titles at the former and latter. After hanging up his boots in 2017, he moved into the dugout at Celtic Park, becoming an assistant to Brendan Rodgers, who he has since followed to Leicester. He also worked on the coaching team for the Ivory Coast national side at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017.
Ashley Cole hung up his boots this month and is looking ahead to his future in coaching
One of the younger members of the squad, Cole went on to play for Chelsea, Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby County in a glittering playing career. He only hung up his boots a fortnight ago and has promised a move into coaching in the coming years. He was linked with a role alongside Frank Lampard at Chelsea, but nothing has yet materialised on that front.
Following his 242 appearances for Arsenal – 32 of which in the title-winning campaign of 2003-04 – Lauren moved on to Portsmouth and Cordoba. He played for five Spanish clubs in his time on the pitch, and has since become a respected pundit and commentator for La Liga. He is an Arsenal ambassador for Africa and lives in Seville with his wife and children.
He was only 18 and right at the start of both his time at Arsenal and his career as a whole when the Invincibles season came around. Since that year, he spent another eight at Arsenal, before moving onto Manchester City and then Istanbul Basaksehir. He is still playing for the latter at the age of 34, alongside the likes of Arda Turan, Demba Ba and Robinho.
Gael Clichy is still playing in Turkey for Istanbul Basaksehir alongside the likes of Demba Ba
For most, the least recognisable face in the famous Invincibles photo is that of Graham Stack, who didn’t make a single league appearance for Arsenal in his time at the club. He went on to play for 11 more sides in a journeyman career, and can now be found back in north London as Watford’s head of academy goalkeeping.
The Brazilian spent four years at Arsenal, with the Invincibles season slap bang in the middle, before moving on to Valencia and then finishing his career in his home country with Corinthians. Upon retirement, he became their director of football, and then was Iran assistant alongside Carlos Queiroz at the 2014 World Cup. Recently, he has returned to Arsenal as the club’s technical director to work alongside boss Unai Emery, and was hailed as a ‘true Arsenal man’ by director of football Raul Sanllehi.
Edu has just returned to Arsenal to work as a technical director alongside Unai Emery and Co
And what about those not pictured…?
The man behind their success, Arsene Wenger is rightly regarded as one of the best coaches ever to grace the game. He led the club to 17 trophies in his 22 years – but will surely look back on the Invincibles season as his finest. He left the Gunners in 2018 and has been linked with a series of returns to the game, but as of yet he has not continued his management career. He can regularly be found as a pundit on beIN Sports in the Far East.
He didn’t play in the game at White Hart Lane due to injury, and therefore wasn’t in the picture on the pitch, but Ljungberg’s importance that season was evident. He played 30 times, scoring four, and was a major reason for their success. Since hanging up his boots in 2014, he’s turned his hand to management and is now ‘First Team Assistant Coach & Transition Partner’ alongside Emery at Arsenal. Before that, he was the Under 23s head coach, and is still ingrained in the very fabric of the club.
Other members of the squad who played in the Premier League that season include: Sylvain Wiltord, Pascal Cygan, Nwankwo Kanu, Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bentley and Justin Hoyte