Exploring the post-football lives of the Man United and Arsenal stars from the 2003 ‘Battle of Old Trafford’

The Battle of Old Trafford on September 21, 2003, between Manchester United and Arsenal, marked a turning point in the football rivalry between the two teams. The significance of this clash became evident months later when Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ completed the 2003-04 season undefeated. The closest Arsenal came to losing during that season was at Old Trafford, where Ruud van Nistelrooy’s last-minute penalty hit the crossbar. This moment, which saw aggressive reactions from Martin Keown and other Arsenal players, was crucial in maintaining Arsenal’s unbeaten streak.

The fallout and recriminations from the dramatic match extended for days as managers and players traded jibes amidst high tensions. Arsenal’s unbeaten league run eventually ended at an astonishing 49 games when they lost at Old Trafford the following season in the infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’ or ‘Pizzagate’.

In the present day, Arsenal returns to Manchester seeking three points against a struggling United team to keep their title hopes alive, 20 seasons on from the memorable clash. Reflecting on the Battle of Old Trafford, it is interesting to see what each player who started the match is up to now.

For Manchester United, players like Tim Howard, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Mikael Silvestre, John O’Shea, Phil Neville, Roy Keane, Quinton Fortune, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ryan Giggs have moved on to various roles in football, including coaching, punditry, and managerial positions.

On the Arsenal side, notable players like Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Martin Keown, Kolo Toure, Ashley Cole, Ray Parlour, Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, and Thierry Henry have transitioned into different roles in football, from coaching to media positions. Some have also ventured into business and philanthropic endeavors, showcasing the diverse paths these former players have taken post-retirement.

Overall, the Battle of Old Trafford remains a significant moment in Premier League history, and the legacy of the players involved continues to shape the football landscape today.

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