AN ARSENAL legend’s son has got Hartlepool dreaming of a return to the Football League after his brilliant debut helped down Middlesbrough.
The North East outfit dropped out of League Two last season and are now preparing for life back in the National League under boss John Askey.
Hartlepool UnitedThe son of an Arsenal legend has helped get Hartlepool supporters dreaming of promotion[/caption]
He is the son of Christopher Wreh, pictured celebrating his FA Cup semi-final winnerPA:Press Association
And, despite their play-off semi-final heartbreak in May, they are one of the favourites for Championship promotion this term.
But they were blown away on a gusty night at Victoria Park by their neighbouring non-leaguers – and it all began with some wizardry from the boy of an Arsenal Double winner from Arsene Wenger’s era.
Liberian international forward Christopher Wreh, now 48, moved to the Gunners in 1997 from Monaco.
And he quickly became a cult icon despite having Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Nicolas Anelka in front of him.
Wreh was part of the squad that lifted the Premier League title that season, scoring vital goals to seal wins over Wimbledon and Bolton.
He also scored the only goal of the game in the FA Cup semi-final win over Wolves, which earned him a start in the final as the Gunners defeated Newcastle 2-0.
And his son Chris Jr, who is eligible for both America and his dad’s homeland, showed that he possesses some of the family magic as he helped topple Boro.
Wreh, 26 and who recently signed on a free transfer from Southend, reacted quickest to latch on to a mistake from right-back George Gitau, reaching his short pass inside towards Dael Fry first and nutmegging the onrushing stand-in Boro skipper.
With the goal in his sight, he then unselfishly decided to pull the ball back across the box for fellow new boy Emmanuel Dieseruvwe to slot home from close-range.
Wreh was replaced at half time as Hartlepool made a raft of changes, but the moment of brilliance was still enough to convince fans of the Monkey Hangers that a promotion campaign was on the cards, despite Ajay Matthews pulling one back at the death for Boro.
“Announce promotion. It’s over. 46 wins from 46,” declared one supporter on Twitter.
Another echoed that sentiment, asking the club to “announce the bus tour” while another said: “Right I am buying a season ticket we are on our way.”
Things went from bad to worse for Boro, who only had a handful of senior players on show with another friendly at York City to follow on Saturday, when David Ferguson converted a cut-back from the left to double the advantage for Hartlepool and seal a 2-0 win.
Wreh’s father started the following campaign after the 1998 Double with a goal in the Charity Shield against Manchester United.
However, he continued to struggle for regular action and his days at Highbury were numbered following the arrivals of Thierry Henry and Davor Suker.
He had loan spells with Birmingham City, Greek side AEK Athens and Dutch club Den Bosch before departing Arsenal permanently in 2000 after five goals in 46 appearances.
Wreh spent a season at Saudi club Al-Hilal, before brief stints back in England with Bournemouth and then Scottish outfit St Mirren.
He went on to spend a year playing in Iran before joining English non-league club Bishop’s Stortford and Buckingham Town.
Wreh then finished his playing career in 2010 after three years at Indonesian side Perseman Manokwari prior to stints coaching with his country.
Wreh Jr started his career at Northampton Town before joining the Arsenal academy — where his team-mates included the likes of Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom.
He also played for Rushden & Diamonds, Aylesbury FC, Dunstable Town Rushall Olympic and Banbury before moving to Southend in 2022.
Speaking previously to Sun Sport he said: “I was only two when dad scored in the semi-final and played the final but what he achieved is embedded in me and my family.
“It’s obviously part of my background and I have seen all the videos of my dad.
“We have brief conversations about all the people he’s played with. But to me he’s just my dad, so we don’t speak about his football career religiously.
“He does give me advice from time to time and tells me where I can improve.”
RexChristopher Wreh celebrates with the FA Cup after winning it with Arsenal in 1998[/caption]
BanburyChris Wreh Jr pictured in action for previous club Banbury[/caption]