In October 2002, a provincial French team defeated Arsenal 2-1 at Highbury. This was a Champions League fixture, in which Auxerre defeated a team that included Henry, Seaman, Campbell, Vieira to name a few, and would stand out as an upset in the modern day.
But when you look at the Auxerre team, you may not be so surprised.
Auxerre had Philip Mexes, later to be AC Milan’s centre back. Djibril Cisse, a champions league winner with Liverpool. As well the likes of Benjani, Kapo, Boumsong, Tainio, Fadiga, Amdy Faye. This team would produce players that would play across Europe for the next decade. So what happened?
Auxerre were finishing high in Ligue 1, competing in the champions league, and won the Coupe de France. After one of the worst exodus’ the world of football had ever seen.
Between 2004-2006 Auxerre sold all of the players named above, on top of talented youngsters like Abou Diaby, Mohamed Sissoko, and Rafik Djebbour. As such the spine and talent of the team was stripped of the side that Guy Roux had spent so long in creating. Roux who managed Auxerre for over 40 years then left in 2005 and it has been a steady decline since, culminating in the clubs relegation in 2012.
Auxerre still dwell in Ligue 2, and sadly the days of beating the Premier Leagues best are long behind them.