Forgotten ex-Arsenal star now managing one of world’s worst international teams

Forgotten Arsenal forward Chris Kiwomya is now trying to turn around the fortunes of one of the world's worst international teams.

Kiwomya joined the Gunners in a £1.25million transfer in the January 1995 transfer window, signing from Ipswich Town who he'd helped earned promotion to the Premier League. After an initial spell in the starting XI, he fell down the pecking order competing with Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright and John Hartson.

By the time he left to join QPR on a free transfer in August 1998, it had been three years since his last appearance with Arsene Wenger happy to let him go. Kiwomya returned a decade later to begin his coaching career, taking up a role in Arsenal's academy.

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He went on to take charge of Notts County in 2013, signing Jack Grealish on loan and earning a draw away at Liverpool in the League Cup. But he lasted just seven months in the role and that looked to be the end of his managerial hopes.

However, eight years on, he became boss of the British Virgin Islands – who at the time hadn't won a game since 2012. Kiwomya brought stability to the side, earning back-to-back draws with the Cayman Islands last year before finally ending their 11-year wait for a victory in September.

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The BVI beat Turks & Caicos 3-1, with 19-year-old Luka Chalwell – who plays for Eastleigh – grabbing a brace. They're now unbeaten in their last three outings after two draws in the October international break.

That run has pushed them up a spot in the FIFA world rankings, climbing to 204th. Below them are the US Virgin Islands, Anguilla and – of course – San Marino.

Speaking to local outlet TWTD, Kiwomya said: "I'm really happy that we the team could make history for the BVI. It's a difficult situation with the players because they are not professional apart from one and I don't get to train all the squad together on a regular basis.

“However, I like a challenge and developing players and they have taken on board what I've asked from them. It also helps that the BVI has beautiful islands!"

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Such was the magnitude of the achievement that Kiwomya was personally thanked by Natalio Wheatley, the BVI's equivalent of a Prime Minister.

He added: "It was great having the Premier at the game and meeting him. He was really impressed with the performance and the improvement in the players within the last 12 months. I'm not getting carried away with the result. It's just one step on a long journey."

Kiwomya, who often works as co-commentator covering Ipswich's games in the Championship when he's not needed in the Caribbean, will look to keep up their good form when they host Dominica on Thursday (November 16).

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