Celebrate Black History Month – Arsenal’s Top 5 Black Defenders

Dan Smith

I want to celebrate Black History Month by paying tribute to the Arsenal players who have contributed to our history.

The minority of readers don’t like when I do this kind of list.

Yet if it’s good enough for the Premier League and Arsenal it’s good enough for me.

Plus, anyone who blushes over celebrating Black History Month?

That’s their issue, correct?


The theme for all 20 topflight clubs in October is ‘Proud to Be’, acknowledging the contribution that players of African and Caribbean descent have given to the League in nearly three decades.

Arsenal’s Monday Match Day programme as well as the Premiere League’s website are chronicling players who have made an impact since the League’s inception since 1993.


Black History Month – Top 5 defenders

5- Sagna

A 7-year servant at Arsenal.

In the 17 years since we last won the title maybe the closest was in Sagna’s first season.

Consistent in both defence and attack.

Sagna played for a young squad who lacked that experience to help them in the crucial moments of games and seasons.

After that he would watch every summer, a high-profile teammate leave. Adebayor, Clichy, Touré, Hleb, Fabregas, Nasri, etc.

Eventually he would do so himself, becoming the latest Gunner to jump ship to Man City.

Maybe because Gooners accepted where the club was at the time and saw it from the players point of view, but Sagna seemed to leave on a free with fans best wishes.

In his last game for us as a Gunner he lifted his one and only trophy for us.

It would have been an injustice if he had nothing to show for his Arsenal career.


Kolo Touré

4- One of the classic examples of what Mr Wenger could do.

Kolo Touré was on trial from our feeder club in Belgium and was offered a contract after impressing with his energy

In his first season he was our utility man, filling in various positions but …never centre back.

So, our manager would be criticised when instead of buying a defender to partner Sol Campbell, Kolo was asked to learn the position himself.

To the public it was an early example of us not being able to compete financially with our rivals due to building the Emirates.

Yet the Ivorian would be a revelation.

Not just was he part of the Invincibles he’s only only two men who can say they started every fixture.

Just say that out loud.

A player plays every single game in a campaign you don’t lose a game – and he cost you less than a million!


3- Lauren

Another example of Mr Wenger teaching a player a new position.

After a season of settling into the physical nature of English Football, Lauren transitioned into our new right back having played in Spain mainly in midfield.

Arsene wanted his full backs to be attacking options and in that sense Lauren and Cole were ahead of their time.

What we also learnt was Lauren had a willingness to fight if needed.

The Arsenal in his era while technically very good and with so much pace, they could also battle you if they had too. You wouldn’t find a Lauren going to a Stoke away on a cold night getting bullied.

Won 2 titles and FA Cup Cups as a Gunner.


2- Ashley Cole

Whenever discussing Ashley Cole, I ask Gooners to take the emotion out of their thinking.

In reality, the reason our fanbase would be angry with the player was because we loved him so much.

One of the few British players to break through our academy at the time, Cole was supposed to be our next captain, the face of Arsenal as we moved into the Emirates era

Instead, he won every domestic honour at Chelsea after nearly ‘crashing my car’ that Arsenal would ‘only’ offer him 55,000 pound a week to extend his contract.

Football wise Cole would be proven correct about the level of ambition the two clubs had.

While he became better at defending at the Bridge, he was more exiting at Highbury.

His understanding with Pires and Henry on our left-hand side destroyed teams

Won two titles and 3 FA Cups in North London


1- Sol Campbell

Best free transfer in our history?

Sol Campbell had the choice of the world’s best clubs when he became a free agent.

Yet his criteria were to have a realistic chance of winning trophies while remaining living in London.

Before Abramovich brought Chelsea this made Arsenal the only possible destination.

While all parties knew a Spurs captain joining the Gunners would be controversial, no one could envisage (or condone) the level of abuse he received when he returned for the NLD.

The way he played on those occasions was a reflection of the man’s character.

Not just did we purchase one of the best centrebacks in Europe, we brought a talent who could walk straight into our dressing room and be one of its main leaders. All that and we didn’t even pay a fee.

He contributed to two titles and 3 FA Cups while playing and scoring the only goal in our only Champion League Final.

The most successful player Spurs ever produced!

He even lifted the title at White Hart Lane…


So, that’s my Top 5 Black Arsenal defenders. Would you change any of those?

Who makes your top midfielder list?


Be Kind in The Comments



  1. Sol Campbell is the best defender ive seen play for us full stop .
    Probably single handedly the best bit of transfer business Wenger did as manager and there was quite a few of them that’s for sure .

    1. I think Campbell was our most important player between 2001 – 04. If he had missed 3 or 4 months through injury then we`d have been knackered. Vieira was also irreplaceable during that period. Campbell`s level of performance during those 3 seasons were of a higher quality than anything I`ve seen at The Arsenal from a defensive perspective. I still put Adams above him though, TA was mentally stronger and done it over a much longer period. For 3 decades he was our main man. Him and Vieira are the best I`ve seen in Red & White.

      1. As much as I admire adams (great leader )
        Campbells lvl of opponents was a higher calibre IMO ,the premier league was a hot spot of talent from 1999 – 2005 some of the best players the league as seen and Campbell had to face that .
        Taking nothing away from adams ,as I grow up in the GG era I just feel Campbell along with the rest of the invincibles was at a higher lvl than their predecessors.

        1. He has always been massively underrated. One of the best in the world for several years during his prime imo, but Ferdinand was all anyone talked about because he was better on the ball (and a Utd player) – Sol was the better defensively imo (great partnership for England tbf).

          1. Got to agree on Ferdinand also ,Man Utd had some fantastic defenders along with us and Chelsea but like you said I wouldn’t have swapped sol for any of them .
            I remember the day and being at work when that press conference was held for sol ,great vid about it on you tube .

        2. Adams didn`t retire until the end of the 2001/02 season so he played against plenty of those players you mention from that era. Campbell`s level of performance during his first 3 seasons at the club are probably unsurpassed but if you offered me a 17 year old Tony Adams or a 17 year old Sol Campbell then I pick Big Tone everyday of the week. Also, take a look at the quality of some of the forwards Adams played against in the 80`s and 90`s, they were hardly mugs. Rush, Lineker, Cantona, Hughes, Shearer, Beardsley, Cole, Yorke, Sheringham to name but a few.

          1. My mistake should have said 2001-2006.
            But now you point out the players he faced you might have a good point also .

  2. Can`t really argue with your list, all top players who made a massive contribution to the club. Viv Anderson never played in a really successful Arsenal side but he was a great right back in my opinion, I`d say he was a better player than Toure (albeit played in a different position) and probably had the edge on Sagna as well. Anyway, looking forward to your article celebrating White history month and the influence White players/defenders have had on our great history. Be quite hard to pick a top 5 though.

  3. Not really bothered with highlighting a player’s race and then using it as a category as part of a rating system

    All the defenders mentioned were fantastic players, personally I’ve never thought of them specically as black…..just as AFC players.

    1. Be careful mate, that type of talk will see you labelled the R word by the Woke brigade. Judging people by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin is a terrible thing to do these days. MLK would be considered an Uncle Tom by the modern day left.

      1. @Johnno couldn’t agree more mate, and in all honesty I find allocating a solitary month of each year to an entire races history extremely outdated and abhorrent.

        1. And I couldn`t agree more with the name you post under. I hold them responsible for much of madness we now have to suffer. Actually I could agree more with your name, I`d change it to `Defund The Mainstream Media.

        2. Highlighting the struggle that black people have faced and still face today is why we need a month to reflect it is easy to say blame the woke brigade as you call it rather than recognising the seriousness of the problem but I guess as a non black person you merely care or relate you are not a true fan as all our black players feel that it is needed you only support them when playing for us but care little for their life experiences and history shame on you.

          1. What a tool! Who the hell are you to say anyone cares little for a life if they aren’t players.

            By far the most crime against black people is committed by black people. Educate yourself.

            FYI I’m African

      2. @Johnno
        I always smh, when someone tries to show they’re not prejudiced or racially bigoted, by using any quote from MLK.
        All the while leaving out the main fact that, for all of his awe inspiring speeches, he was still assassinated for the Color of his skin and not the content of his character”
        And those on the “ woke left”, know the difference between “Uncle Tom” and” Sambo”. Because they’ve read the book and are not “asleep”…✌🏾

    2. Yeah and this is why I think racism will never end. I don’t have any issue with the article in question because it has noble intentions.

      Racism will never end as long as people are referred to as brown, white, black etc. The day when we see a person and just think of them as a human being (consciously and subconsciously) instead of the color of their skin is the day we can say we no longer have racism. Based on humanity history that is not any time soon.

      1. I thought we were getting there until this woke stuff started coming to the fore. The more these unimportant differences are highlighted, the longer racism will persist.
        And actually an awful lot of today’s “woke” anti-racism is very clearly racist if looked at at-all objectively. It’s destructive.

      2. Racism was created by the white man against the black man to demean and belittle them later on taking on a more serious turn by using them as slaves and killing and raping them for pleasure and profit black people did not ask for this this month is very necessary and all those that don’t see it or get it are either racist or insensitive/uneducated as a people we have been displaced until this day and still booed throughout Europe and last week at Wembley so if people don’t see it god help you.

        1. FYI Black people had black slaves from opposing tribes long before White man ever came to Africa.

          Also by far the worst slave traders in history have been Arabs and it continues today.

          Look in the mirror when telling people to educate themselves.

          Racism was created by the White man lol

          1. @PJ-SA
            Nice try, but EPIC fail. Historically, POW’s the world over have been used as slaves.
            And though Arabs have enslaved Africans in large numbers. That is but a drop in a bucket in comparison to the trans Atlantic slave trade, which lasted over 400 years, kidnapping over 13 million Africans.
            Not to mention the laws that were passed, some which are still on the books in the America’s, that after the abolition of slavery, still hold people of African descent in a perpetual state of slavery, minus the chattels…

          2. Absolutely spot on mate. You my friend are the woke brigades worst nightmare, a black man who thinks for himself and refuses to be a victim. The real racists are those who think black people need mollycoddling because they`re too stupid to stand up for themselves. And as for the evil of slavery, again you are bang on the money. The worst slave traders in history were Arabs. Even as we speak, there are open slave markets operating in Libya where you can buy a human being for 300 US Dollars. Strange how the Woke mob never complain about that isn`t it? Doesn`t fit their narrative I suppose.

          3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but slavery has never been a case of your skin ethnicity, it’s been a case of ‘weakness’.

            By that I mean you have to two kingdoms, nations, tribes or even villages fighting each other, usually for conquering territory. Losers of this conflict get sent to slavery.

            Slavery was and has been a spoil of war.

          4. Correct Dajuhi. In some ancient societies for example Korean, a person was born a slave and there was no way they could change their social status.

          5. Arabs?not even close,the worst were the European biggest empires of the time(early 1500’s to late 1800’s) 1Portugal
            2nd the UK,3rd France,4th the Nederland and in 5th the US.countries which have the most slavery in 2021
            North Korea ,I don’t know where you read that Arabs countries were the worse but that’s not the case at all.in Africa today countries such as Sudan and Liberia, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda, Congo, Niger and Mauritania are the worse.

  4. We have come a long way since the dark days but we still have a long way to go
    It is our job as decent human beings to ensure we teach the young and old that racism, ageism
    Being sexist is not acceptable
    Ignorance cost you everything
    Onwards a d upwards

  5. Of course, racism will only finally be banished when nobody notices or cares what skin colour players have.
    By making lists of black players, we are playing into the hands of those who think that caring about skin colour enough to list our better black players, is itself promoting racism.

    I do not think it is racist to do so but I do consider it unwise and pointless.

    To my independent thinking mind, you might just as well make lists of left handed players or Labour voting players, both of which would also be unwise and pointless, though no more so than a list of best black players.

    1. Having now just read all the above comments on this article, the first thing that stands out is that very few have chosen to play the rather pointless game the writer asks them too play.

      I think they are wise not to and he is unwise to ask them.

      Glad to see, in essence, that it is only Dan (and not Gooners in general), who cares more about lists of black skin colour than do most Gooners, me included.


        1. Dan A childish comment . Most GOONERS ON THIS THREAD THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE NOT WRITTEN SUCH A PIECE. It is outmoded and backward in thinking.

          YOU should be the one blushing Dan, for you poOr judgement and naivety in writing such a pointless, though not actually racist, piece.

  6. There is only one race, the human race, all fashioned in the image of God, all different shades of brown.

    Five (and one sub) best Arsenal defenders of all time: Eddie Hapgood, Frank McLintock, David O’Leary, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Ashely Cole.

  7. Sol was a serious competitor, awesome athlete and brilliant defender full stop.

    As for racism it will not die…
    Everyone has prejudice as it’s part of the pack mentality of humans…we identify as being part of some ‘club/sect/religion/gang/island etc etc and fear and disapprove of those that do not share the same colours/ideology/good book/landmass etc…

    Racism is inherent in all races.

    Yes, pressure to drop certain words or label people by certain ‘accepted’ names will continue but that doesn’t remove internal thinking any mental structures developed through exposure to an environment.

    Example: I don’t understand why one white man can’t use the word ‘black’ man to describe a man of Afro Caribbean descent. Does him doing so make him a racist? I don’t think so… for me this kind of word focus is petty. One man is not truly black and another is not purely white they are just generic descriptive labels.

    There are far more offensive and derogatory terms.

    I too think the whole let’s have a month for a particular colour of skin is outdated and doesn’t really help with the aim which is surely to evolve and only to judge people by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin.

    1. AOT, Your post was by a distance the most sensible, wise and shrewd post on this thread so far.
      IN MY PRIVATE LIFE I try not to use the words black or white to describe people, as I find many will find that offensive, even though I see no reason for them to do so . But I dislike giving reason for some to think – even mistakenly – I may be belittling them, simply because of an irrelevant skin colour issue.
      The article writer’s less than intelligent idea that we should have a separate list for black players who have played in defence for our club is so old fashioned and outdated as to be almost a colonial attitude and one that belongs in former centuries, rather than in the mostly evolved early 21st century.

      I do not however think it is actually racist but is unwise, outdated and pointless. I am glad to see that most on this thread are saying, in their own words, much the same.

  8. Sol is a magnificent signing because he was Spurs captain. The satisfaction we got when spurs fans boiled lol. Also a reflection how far we have fallen. Hopefully one day we can pull this again, signing their “harry kane” or “son”.

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