Arsenal flop looks completely unrecognisable in snap 20 years on from debut

Arsenal flop Igors Stepanovs looks completely unrecognisable in snap 20 years on from his Gunners debut.

The Latvian defender made just 31 appearances during his four years with the club after signing from Skonto Riga in 2000 for £1.35million.

During this period, though, he was part of a side which won a league and FA Cup double in 2002 but he missed out on the being a member of the Invincibles.

He spent the 2003/04 season on loan in Belgium playing for sister club KSK Beveren before leaving Arsenal permanently in 2004 to join Swiss side Grasshoppers on a free transfer.

Stepanovs later returned to Latvia as well as having spells in Denmark and Russia before he retired in 2012.

Overall, he won 100 caps for Latvia and has spent time in charge of the under-17 and under-18 national teams since hanging up his boots.

However, following a brief spell managing Latvian side Auda Kekava, he took over as manager of the Maldives under-19 side.

Now 45, Stepanovs looks almost unrecognisable in his new role compared to during his spell at Arsenal.

While in England, the Latvian central defender had a lean figure and slightly wild but short blonde hair.

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In a recent snap from his role with the Maldives, however, he sported a shaved head and more filled out figure.

Stepanovs had struggled during his time in England, but one Arsenal teammate has since recalled how they mocked Martin Keown following his arrival at the club.

In his autobiography, Ray Parlour said: "Martin Keown was always worried about people coming in to steal his position. If we had a centre-half on trial, Martin would say he was useless.

"This big guy from Latvia, Igors Stepanovs, turned up. He was a unit, but seriously, he was not up to standard.

"A few of us were on the bench watching as he played in this trial game. Stepanovs is out there and every single pass he made, the boys started applauding, just because we knew Martin would be getting a bit steamed up by it.

"Dennis Bergkamp was sitting behind Arsene and kept doling out these compliments about this defender. 'Great header! Unbelievable tackle!'

"Igors kicked this one ball 20 yards away from where it was meant to go but it still went to one of our players so we all stood up clapping.

"Martin’s muttering: 'He’s not that good.' He started to point out where he missed a tackle or a header.

"That night we went for dinner and laughed about it as we were only trying to wind Martin up.

"We all knew Igors was nowhere near the standards set by Tony Adams, Martin and Bouldy. But Martin is such an easy target because he bites."

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