When did Arsenal leave Highbury? Last game at iconic stadium, classic kit & move to the Emirates explained

Arsenal are one of the famous clubs in English football, with a stadium to match the biggest and best teams across the world.

However, prior to their move into the vast surrounds of the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners made their home at Highbury, a ground that first opened in 1913 and could house just under 40,000 fans.

GOAL takes a look back at Arsenal's last game at Highbury, the kit they wore and why the move to a new stadium happened.

When did Arsenal leave Highbury?

Arsenal left Highbury at the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, with the ground officially closing on May 7, 2006.

The club left behind what was a 38,000-capacity stadium in order to move into the Emirates Stadium, a new, purpose-built state-of-the-art 60,000-seater venue.

What was Arsenal's last game at Highbury?

The last game Arsenal played at Highbury was a Premier League clash with Wigan Athletic on May 7, 2006.

A Thierry Henry hat-trick complemented Robert Pires' opening goal to help the Gunners on their way to a 4-2 victory, allowing the club to bow out in style on a high note despite the Baggies' best efforts.

Crucially too, Arsene Wenger's side clinched fourth place - and Champions League football - in the process, having bettered Tottenham's result against West Ham (Spurs lost 2-1).

Pires fired Arsenal in front, but Wigan hit back through Paul Scharner before taking an unlikely lead when David Thompson's free-kick deceived Jens Lehmann. However, Henry sprung into action to rescue victory and ensure a memorable occasion for Gunners fans.

"For the history of the club and for this building here, to finish on a high I am very proud," reflected Wenger afterwards.

"We would all have felt guilty to have walked out of here on a low after what has happened here for years. There was fantastic excitement, strength of character and quality as well."

Highbury Arsenal 2006
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For Henry, it was a bittersweet moment, with rumours of the French striker's impending departure prompting Ashley Cole to joke that they would "handcuff Thierry to keep him" at the club.

After the game, hat-trick hero Henry said: "That was the perfect send-off."

The striker added: "When I kissed the ground after my third, I was saying goodbye to this stadium."

As it turned out, Henry would remain at Arsenal for their maiden season at the Emirates before joining Barcelona in 2007.

You can watch highlights of the game in the video above.

What kit did Arsenal wear in their last Highbury game?

Arsenal wore their 2005-06 burgundy (or redcurrant) home kit for their last game at Higbhury and it subsequently became known as the "Highbury Farewell" kit.

Thierry Henry Highbury 2006
Getty

Manufactured by Nike, the kit had a burgundy and gold colourway, with white shorts and burgundy socks being the preferred combination.

The 'O2' sponsor logo was gold and the jersey featured a large collar, with the Arsenal badge placed in the centre of the chest, rather than the left.

Why did Arsenal move to the Emirates Stadium?

Arsenal's move to the Emirates Stadium was driven chiefly by financial incentives, with the club seeking to maximise ticket sales in a time of sustained on-field success and meet the demand of a growing fanbase.

Revenue is also generated through the hosting of concerts, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay performing at the venue, while Brazil have played a number of international exhibition games there.

While the financial benefits of moving to a state-of-the-art stadium are clear, former boss Wenger has lamented that the club "left their soul" at Highbury.

"I moved from Highbury, which was similar to Anfield, but there was a soul in the stadium," the Frenchman told beIN Sports in 2020.

"We built a new stadium but we never found our soul - we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate it for security reasons.

"The distance from the pitch to the stand had to be bigger as we needed ambulances to come in. The inclination of the stands had to be smaller - all those things together meant that we weren't able to recreate the atmosphere."

What happened to Highbury?

The old Highbury was transformed into housing in 2010, with a development known as Highbury Square seeing over 700 houses built on the site.

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