Flamini admits why he left Arsenal in 2008 - 'I wanted to win'

Mathieu Flamini challenging Steven N'Zonzi

Mathieu Flamini has spoken about his memories of FA Cup glory - and why he left in 2008 for AC Milan.

Arsenal have made it to Wembley for the semi-finals of the FA Cup after coming through a tough encounter against Everton with a rather flattering 4-1 scoreline.

Goals from Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta and a double from substitute Olivier Giroud proved enough despite Romelu Lukaku’s goal and a superb performance from Ross Barkley in the Toffees midfield.

So Gunners fans can now surely dare to dream - is the long wait finally coming to an end?

Arsenal have not won any piece of silverware since they defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup final nine years ago - so hope of that glut ending has certainly palpitated today.

Of that 2005 FA Cup winning side only one remains - French midfield general Mathieu Flamini.

Of course he has been away for a while. He re-joined the club on a free transfer this summer - after six years away at AC Milan.

It was his 30th birthday yesterday and ITV spoke to him ahead of the FA Cup tie at The Emirates, presenting him with a nine-candled birthday cake to represent the trophy drought.

And he spoke of that 2005 glory - and just why he left the club in 2008:

“(Winning the FA Cup was) Beautiful or maybe magic. At the time there was players like (Dennis) Bergkamp (Thierry) Henry; major players which was a huge advantage. We went to the final of the Champions League and the way we lost, it was hard. I still have it in the back of my mind it is something that I don’t think I will ever forget.

He was then asked why so many star players had left the club in that period - and why he made the same decision:

“It’s a good question. I think that question maybe you should ask the coach or the management. But I agree with you when you are a top club you want to keep your top players. (I left) because I wanted to win.”

His honesty is certainly refreshing - and he certainly went on to win with AC Milan - lifting the Serie A title in 2010-11 - but returning to help Arsenal win a trophy once again would certainly represent his best triumph yet.

Now to see if they can win two games at Wembley - and start filling the trophy cabinet at their new stadium.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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