History: The one and only ‘Mr Arsenal’ our ever-loyal Captain Tony Adams

Tony Adam- one of Arsenals greatest captains

In 1957 defender and four times league title hero Tony Adams was born in Dagenham.

Adams joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980, before waiting three years to make his debut in 1983 versus Sunderland in the First Division only a month after his 17th birthday. Adams created a regular spot in the first team by the 1986/87 campaign, clinching his first major honour at Highbury being the 1987 League Cup after beating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.

He played a fundamental role in the “famous back four” which consisted of Adams, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould under manager George Graham who was best known for his great tactical offside trap.

In the New Year of 1988 Adams secured the captains armband whilst only 21 years old, he would retain the much adored position for the next 14 seasons until stepping down as a player.

Adams consistent discipline of the back line proved to be the difference between Arsenal lifting the 1987 League Cup and First Division title twice in 1989 and 1991 or not.

During the 1992/93 season Adams became the first captain to help a team win the League and FA Cup double after Arsenal beat Sheffield Wednesday in both finals. He would later lift the 1994 European Cup Winners Cup 1-0 over Parma.

After overcoming his battle with alcohol six weeks into his sober period Arsene Wenger popped through the doors of Highbury. The Frenchman came to terms with his psychological duel with the substance which saw the Englishman pay back his fortunes, Adams secured the league and cup double twice in 1998 and 2002.

With the 2002/03 season arriving Adams retired from the game for good after almost two decades at The Gunners. He played 674 games at Arsenal seeing only David O’ Leary on 722 matches play more time for Arsenal than Adams.

After hanging up his boots Adams handed in his CV to Brentford who failed to narrowly gain promotion to the second tier of English football, before having it turned down after the sacking of Steve Coppell.

The standout defender named “Mr Arsenal” received a testimonial match versus Celtic on May 2002 featuring a number of other legends, for instance Ian Wright, John Lukic and defenders he once commanded – Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould. The result of the match was 1-1 witnessing Dixon make his final Arsenal appearance and scoring during the game.

Two years nearly after retiring Adams was added to the English Football Hall of Fame in honour of his defensive duties.

For Arsenals 125th anniversary a monument of Adams was unveiled outside Arsenals home the Emirates Stadium in 2011.

From 1987-2000 Adams represented his country England 66 times scoring on five occasions. He played for England in the 1996 Euros which saw his Nation reach the semi-final of the tournament on home soil Wembley. He also appeared in the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euros.

To this day Adams is the only England footballer to play for the country in three different decades.

Over the span of 13 years Adams would go onto manage Wycombe Wanderers, Feyenoord, Portsmouth, Gabala (an Azerbaijani outfit) and Granada before finally retiring as coach in 2017. However he failed to emulate the success he achieved at Arsenal as a player.

Adams now 57 is still known for his solid captaincy and indomitable tackling methods which allowed for Arsenal to have one of the greatest back lines of all-time during the 1980s ,1990s and early 2000s.

Liam Harding

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  1. As well as being the only player to play for England in 3 different decades, he’s also the only player to captain his team to League Titles in 3 different decades.

  2. For Liam
    Sorry to point out another typo error. He could not have been 21 yrs in 1988 if he was born in 1957. We presume this was meant to be born in 1967.

  3. A great servant and leader who fully deserves the ‘ legend ‘ tag. He must have had lots of offers to leave but remained loyal to us. Remember seeing his debut back in the early 80’s and you could see even in someone that young that he was going to be a great player.

  4. He is definitely one of the all time Arsenal greats and how he turned his career around after his jail sentence is incredible. Pity he didn’t make it as a manager but Sporting Chance will be his legacy to sport.

  5. Great, you guys did one for Winterburn and now you gave us Tony. I am pleased. That group was just the BEST AFC team i remember not wanting to miss any game they played.

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