Football: Anelka stays away from Dixon's testimonial night

Arsenal 3 Real Madrid 1
NICOLAS ANELKA may have stayed away but 22,486 fans turned up at Highbury last night to pay tribute to Arsenal's loyal defender Lee Dixon in his testimonial.

And the 35-year-old full-back will not mind the fact that he did not actually receive the loudest cheer of the night. That went to the Gunners' all-time record goalscorer Ian Wright, who made a guest appearance as a substitute after 70 minutes and received a hero's welcome.

Real Madrid provided the opposition, but the Spanish giants were without the controversial striker who joined them from Arsenal this summer for pounds 23m. Anelka was reportedly missing through injury, but that did not spoil the occasion for Dixon, who can expect to earn pounds 300,000 from a match which Arsenal won comfortably thanks to goals from Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Stefan Malz.

Another man who looks to have benefited from the night is the England coach, Kevin Keegan, as winger Steve McManaman played for 61 minutes in an effort to prove his fitness ahead of the Euro 2000 play-off with Scotland. McManaman had been out for nearly six weeks with a thigh injury, but he returned for Madrid in the Spanish League on Saturday, playing 67 minutes before being substituted by John Toshack.

Keegan had asked his old pal and former Liverpool strike partner Toshack to play McManaman at Highbury, and the 27-year-old appeared to suffer no reaction to his recent injury.

The night, however, belonged to Dixon. Since being signed from Stoke for pounds 400,000 by George Graham in January 1988 he has made 527 appearances for Arsenal and scored 22 goals. Only four men - George Armstrong, David O'Leary, Tony Adams and Nigel Winterburn - have played more times for the club.

Dixon, who has been capped 22 times by England, has won three Championships, two FA Cups, a European Cup-Winners' Cup and three Charity Shields with Arsenal.

Comments