If you are/were an Arsenal player who played during the 2003-04 season, you will be defined by that season – arguably the greatest season of Arsenal's history and indeed the English Premier League. Even if you are Dennis Bergkamp, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, who have all won many more titles before and after, that season will hold a special place in your heart.
And for one of Arsenal's modern day greats that is pretty much the case as well. "Arsene Wenger actually said we could do it, a season before we actually managed to achieve that feat," said Freddie Ljungberg, the midfield goalmachine, who was pivotal in Arsenal completing a full season without a single defeat – 26 wins, 12 draws, 0 losses.
Speaking during the Puma launch of Arsenal's new jerseys in Bangalore, Ljungberg elaborated on that epic season which has in a way defined Wenger's reign.
"We, as players, weren't too sure when Wenger told us we could go an entire season undefeated," Ljungberg said as he was cheered on by a whole host of Indian gooners. "But, a year after and we had achieved it, and that is all thanks to Wenger and the faith he had in us."
Still looking fit as a fiddle with that now trademark bald head Ljungberg opened up on everything Arsenal, who signed a mega £30 million a year five-year kit deal with Puma starting this season.
"Arsenal is a big part of my life," he said. "I came here when I was 20-years-old and it is a special place, with a special manager. If you ask any former Arsenal player they will say the same thing, they all love the club."
And for Ljungberg, his debut, made way back in September 1998, after he became the most expensive Swedish player, is still as vivid as they come. The midfielder announced himself in the Premier League in spectacular style, scoring a goal in his first game after coming on as a substitute against Manchester United.
"When I first came to Arsenal, all of the fans were great," said Ljungberg, who will be seen on Indian shores with more regularity after signing a deal to play in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL). "I still remember by first game. Wenger brought me on as a substitute, and for several minutes I was shaking like a leaf. But, somehow I managed to score a goal, and everything fell in place from then."
Indeed, Ljungberg did have a penchant for scoring against Arsenal's biggest rivals during that era – Manchester United. "I always loved playing against Manchester United," he recalled. "They were our biggest rivals and those were the kind of games you wanted to play.
"I scored a few goals against them, and fair play to that."
Ljungberg picked out Dennis Bergkamp, the Arsenal legend, as the best player he has played with, but also reserved special praise for his attacking midfield partner – Robert Pires – with the duo terrorising defences from both wings as Bergkamp pulled the strings in the centre of the attacking park and Henry made merry, like only he can.
"He is someone I still train with," Ljungberg said of Pires, who will also be a part of the ISL this season. "Pires was a great player."
Recalling the time when Pires, having the season of his life, was struck down by a cruciate ligament injury, Ljungberg revealed how the rest of his Arsenal teammates banded together to ensure the team would not wilt under the mega blow, with Wenger's men eventually going on to win yet another Premier League title.
That presentation ceremony will forever be remembered for the collective bow that the entire Arsenal squad gave to Pires, who was on crutches, as a show of admiration for putting their team in prime position to win the title with his incredible play.
Pires, after all, when on song, was an absolute joy to watch – those curlers into the top corner after cutting in from the left, collector's items, every single one of them.
"He suffered a serious injury, and I only just came back from an injury myself and the rest of the team got together and ensured we would not lose the title," revealed Ljungberg.
Every single player that has come and gone at Arsenal has had one thing to say – about Wenger's genius; and Ljungberg is no different. "Wenger is one of the best manager's in the world. He's very intelligent, very calculating and he knows exactly what is necessary.
"I think Wenger has been unfairly criticised for Arsenal's lack of success over the past few years. The club were under financial constraints and the manager sacrificed a lot during that spell."
However, Arsenal's lean nine-year period ended with victory in the FA Cup last season, and with Wenger now having the opportunity to whip out that cheque book a lot more frequently, as witnessed by the signings of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, Ljungberg sees a brighter future.
"We won the trophy, and now we have a bit more power," the 37-year-old said. "Now we are competing with the big boys.
"A winning mentality is a big factor in success. And I think this season we can go all the way and win the league."
So, will Wenger be at the helm to guide Arsenal to more success in the coming years? Ljungberg certainly believes so. "I don't think he is going to retire anytime soon," added the Swede.