This Week in Football History: Le Tissier gives The Dell a fairytale send-off.

Matt Le Tissier salutes the Southampton faithful
Matt Le Tissier salutes the Southampton faithful

Keeping with this weekend's theme of farewells, Adrian North looks back 14 years to the day Southampton said goodbye to The Dell in the most fitting way possible...


"The game was a cracker, Ashely Cole opening the scoring before Hassan Kachloul pulled one back. Freddie Ljunberg put Arsenal back in front and Kachloul bundled another equaliser, and with the score at 2-2 and 15 minutes left Saints manager Stuart Grey threw on Le Tissier for a final run-out. The finale was almost too predictable. It just had to be Le Tiss, and it had to be a beauty."

May 19, 2001 - Southampton 3-2 Arsenal, The Dell.

The qualifications for footballing deification are two fold - be loyal and be a champion. Steven Gerrard most certainly was both, as was Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and a select few others.

The exception to the rule is of course Matt Le Tissier, a man who preferred scoring screamers for the club he loved rather than scoring goals for the reward of silverware. If any career could be truly described as a fairytale it would be that of Le Tissier.

Most fairytale careers rarely have such a fairytale ending however. Most end with a whimper, with a headbutt in a World Cup final or as a bystander to the marauding Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie.

And so did Le Tissier's career to be fair, after just four appearances during the 01/02 season and even further concerns over his fitness he decided to call it a day in March of 2002. This is all irrelevant however, as for Le Tiss the 01/02 season didn't count, for Le Tiss his career was always intertwined with his and Southampton's true home - The Dell.

The Dell had stood for 103 years before the decision was made to knock it down and move to the twice as large Saint Mary's Stadium. A decision that financially made sense, but sentimentally was a tough one for a fair few Saints fans, and come the end of the 2000/01 season Southampton were saying goodbye to both their home and their hero.

On May 19, 2001, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal came to the south coast to play in The Dell's farewell competitive match. The game was a cracker, Ashely Cole opening the scoring before Hassan Kachloul pulled one back. Freddie Ljunberg put Arsenal back in front and Kachloul bundled another equaliser, and with the score at 2-2 and 15 minutes left Saints manager Stuart Grey threw on Le Tissier for a final run-out.

The finale was almost too predictable. It just had to be Le Tiss, and it had to be a beauty.



It's a truly perfect moment. No-one, not even the most ardent Portsmouth fan could begrudge such a send-off. He really was one of a kind, beloved most of all by the Southampton faithful, but also by just about every neutral fan too, which is an almost unprecedented feat in the sporting world come to think of it.

And here is the Match of the Day segment for the game.


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