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Paul Vaessen

Personal information
Full namePaul Leon Vaessen
Playing positionStriker

     Home | Football | Paul Vaessen

Paul Leon Vaessen (16 October 1961 8 August 2001) was an English footballer.

Vaessen was born in Gillingham to a footballing family his father Leon had played for Millwall and Gillingham. A centre-forward, he joined Arsenal in 1977 as an apprentice, and made his debut aged 16 against Lokomotive Leipzig in the UEFA Cup on 27 September 1978. He made his league debut the following year, against Chelsea on 14 May 1979. He turned professional in July the same year, scoring five goals in 13 appearances in 1979-80.

The most famous of these goals was the one Vaessen scored against Juventus at the Stadio Comunale, in the second leg of a 1980 Cup Winners Cup Semi Final on 23 April 1980. Arsenal had drawn the first leg 1-1 and thus, trailing on the away goals rule, needed to score to stand any chance of getting to the final; Vaessen came on as a substitute after 75 minutes, and with just two minutes of normal time, he headed home a Graham Rix cross to make the score 2-1 to Arsenal, and put them into the final. It was the first time Juventus had lost to a British team on home soil.

Vaessen's career was blighted by injury; he was unable to play regularly over the next two seasons; he took a bad knock in a North London derby match against Tottenham Hotspur and had to undergo surgery on his knee. After missing the whole of 1982-83, he was forced to retire from the game in summer 1983, aged 21. In all, he scored 9 goals in 39 matches for Arsenal.

After leaving Arsenal, Vaessen performed a variety of jobs, such as postman and also worked on a construction site. During the 1990s, Vaessen almost died from stab wounds suffered when a drug deal went wrong and dealers knifed him in a London street.

In August 2001 he was found dead at his Bristol flat, aged 39. A post mortem found he had a high level of drugs in his bloodstream, and the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, and it was later revealed that Vaessen had been a heroin addict for several years and had several convictions for crimes including robberies and muggings.

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