Terje Hauge, the referee who officiated the 2006 Champions League final between Arsenal and Barcelona in Paris, has admitted that he rushed into making a decision that completely changed the game.
The closest the Gunners have ever come to winning Europe’s most prestigious club competition was 16 years ago. We had beaten Juventus and Real Madrid along the way, and there was never a better chance to get the job done.
Sadly, Jens Lehmann was sent off in the 18th minute of the game, and although we took the lead through Sol Campbell, Barca were always the favourites. They came from behind and beat us to the Champions League title.
2006 Champions League referee admits he made a mistake that cost Arsenal
In an interview recently, Hauge admitted that he rushed with his decision and showed Lehmann a red card when he actually should’ve allowed Barcelona’s goal to stand and let the game continue 11v11.
He said, as quoted by The Mirror: “All in all, I’m quite happy with my performance. The match started well, then obviously there was the incident with the sending-off.
“At this point, I would have liked to have taken a few more seconds before I made my decision. The ideal thing would have been to wait a few seconds.
“If I’d done that, I could have given the goal and eventually given a yellow card. Of course, everyone wants a goal, so this was a key situation.”
Things could’ve been so different
Arsene Wenger and every member of that Arsenal squad will forever regret not winning the Champions League that night. Lehmann is probably still not over it today.
Even with 10 men, Arsenal held on until the final 15 minutes of the game. We were so close to glory, but Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti killed our dream.
It has been 16 years to the day since that heartbreaking night in Paris, and Arsenal haven’t come close to the Champions League trophy since. That really is a shame, and what makes it even worse is the fact that we may have to wait at least another year to even get back into the competition.
Arsenal’s hope of returning to the Champions League is hanging by a very thin thread now. For us to qualify, we’ll have to win against Everton on the final day and hope that Norwich City can pull off a miracle against Spurs. That, sadly, is extremely unlikely.