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Michael Lauriston Thomas (born August 24, 1967) is an English former footballer. He is remembered most for the goal he scored for Arsenal against Liverpool, in the final minute of the final First Division match of the 1988-89 season, which won Arsenal the League title. The match was later featured in detail in a film based on the Nick Hornby novel, Fever Pitch.

Born in Lambeth, London, Thomas signed for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1982, turning professional in 1984. He was loaned out to Portsmouth F.C. in early 1987, playing three times, before returning to Arsenal. His Gunners career started with a baptism of fire, as Thomas made his debut in the first leg of a League Cup semi-final, against Tottenham Hotspur on February 8, 1987; Arsenal lost 1-0 but would go on to win the League Cup after a comeback in the second leg.

Thomas soon became a regular in the Arsenal side, and played 37 times, mainly at right-back in the 1987-88 season. With the arrival of Lee Dixon, Thomas was moved forward into midfield for the 1988-89 season, and also played the first of his two games for England, in a friendly against Saudi Arabia.

Thomas' greatest moment came on May 26, 1989. The First Division match between Liverpool and Arsenal had been postponed due to the Hillsborough disaster until the very end of the season, and in the meantime Liverpool had won the FA Cup, meaning they had the chance of a historic second Double. Before the match, Arsenal were on 73 points with 71 goals for and 36 against (meaning a goal difference of +35); Liverpool were on 76 points with 65 for and 26 against (a difference of +39). Thus, Arsenal needed to win by at least two goals to take the title on goals scored; Liverpool had not lost by two goals at Anfield for nearly four years.

After a goalless first half, Alan Smith scored early on, heading in a free kick from Nigel Winterburn. As the clock ticked down, though, it looked as if Arsenal were going to win the battle but lose the war. However, in injury time, in Arsenal's last attack, Thomas surged from midfield, ran onto a Smith flick-on, evaded Steve Nicol and shot low past Bruce Grobbelaar to score Arsenal's second, and win the title, Arsenal's first in eighteen years.

Thomas enjoyed another two seasons at Arsenal, winning a second League title in 1990-91. In all he played 206 matches, scoring 30 goals, but he fell out with Arsenal manager George Graham in autumn 1991. He was sold to Liverpool, and scored the opening goal with a spectacular shot from Steve McManaman's cross for the Merseyside club in the 1992 FA Cup Final against Sunderland to win the Cup for his new club. However, injuries blighted his Liverpool career and he became a squad player that was used as a replacement for Jamie Redknapp. He later played for Middlesbrough, Benfica and Wimbledon, before retiring in 2001.

 

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