Football: Raucous Wright hijacks Dixon's special night out

Arsenal 3 Real Madrid 1
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The Independent Online
IAN WRIGHT almost ruined Lee Dixon's big night out after his high jinks delayed the kick-off of the full-back's testimonial at Highbury. It was party night for Arsenal full-back Dixon as more than 22,000 fans turned up to pay tribute to the loyal 35-year-old and see the Gunners overcome Real Madrid.

But the star of the show was undoubtedly the former Highbury favourite Wright who delayed the start of the match by 20 minutes after he threw some of the players' shirts out of the dressing room window. Wright, currently at Celtic, asked fans outside if they wanted a present. He then threw out the shirts of Marc Overmars and Davor Suker, much to the delight of the gathering hordes.

But it meant that kit man Vic Akers had to dash to the Arsenal club shop and get replacement shirts and then have them printed up with new names and numbers.

Wright, the club's all-time record goalscorer, earned the loudest cheer of the night when he came off the bench 20 minutes from time to replace Suker but Dixon, who will have earned around pounds 300,000 from the night, had no complaints. He joked: "It was very nice for me to play in Ian Wright's testimonial!"

Patrick Vieira shot Arsenal in front after 12 minutes and Dennis Bergkamp added the second four minutes before the break. Substitute Stefan Malz scored with a diving header after 72 minutes before Christian Karembeu pulled one back for the Spanish giants two minutes later.

England winger Steve McManaman played for 61 minutes after coming off the Madrid bench in an effort to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday's Euro 2000 play-off clash with Scotland at Hampden Park. He has just returned from a six-week lay-off with a thigh injury. "I've now played for an hour in two games in the last three days and I have felt no reaction to the injury," he said.

One player missing was Nicolas Anelka, who left Highbury for Madrid in a pounds 23.5m deal in the summer. He was said to be injured.