£11.9m former Arsenal star rolls back the years with world-class assist v Turkey

Hleb

Alexander Hleb's career may have nose-dived since he left North London - but last night saw him produce the magic we know he is capable of.

When Arsenal scooped deep in their pockets to snap up Alexander Hleb from VfB Stuttgart in June 2005 nobody expected him to go on and have such an impressive impact at the club. The dynamic playmaker consistently showed off his technical wizardry, dribbling ability and scything passing aptitude during his three years in North London - and that is why so many fans were thoroughly disappointed when he left in 2008.

He joined Barcelona, a move he now admits regretting, and has struggled ever since.

He has played for Stuttgart, Birmingham City, Wolfsburg, Kyrlia Sovetov and current club BATE Borisov ever since but his contract in his homeland expires in January - when he will enter the free agent market once again.

And the future doesn’t look good in terms of a return to one of Europe’s bigger leagues - although a potential Bundesliga return has been mooted as a possibility.

What he really needs to do between now and then is put himself in the shop window with some eye-catching performances - which he certainly did last night.

Playing for Belarus against Turkey, a game that finished 2-1 to the Turks, Hleb produced a moment of absolute magic that looked more like him from his Arsenal days then the shell of an injury ravaged 32-year-old.

He picked up the ball on the right-wing, proceeded to dupe two Turkey defenders not once but twice with quick feet before squaring an inch-perfect pass back to striker Vitali Rodionov - who curled the ball into the top corner.

It was a marvellous goal, created by a marvellously mercurial talent - who we hope may have won last hurrah in him yet … wherever he ends up next year.

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image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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