In the second of my series regarding the “Immortals” who have been honoured with statues outside The Emirates, I’m going to take a look at Tony Adams. His nickname was ‘Mr. Arsenal’ and I believe that any supporter of our club who saw him play will identify with that name.
I am not going into the personal side of his life, as this doesn’t impact on the club’s decision to honour him in such a way. But I would urge anyone who has not read his autobiography “ADDICTED” to sit down in a quiet room and marvel at the inner strength and determination shown, something that shone through his playing days at The Arsenal. I salute you Tony, for this book and its contents. You inspired me in my own life, both personal and football.
Tony Adams was born on the 10/10/1966 and joined our club as a schoolboy in 1980 and three years later, a month after his seventeenth birthday, he made his first team appearance against Sunderland. He followed this, at the age of twenty-one, by becoming Arsenal’s youngest ever captain and it was a position he would hold until he retired.
The media nicknamed him “Donkey” and opposing fans would bray at him every game he played. But this seemed to just drive him forward and he held the league title aloft, following George Graham’s finest hour when we beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.
He then led our club to its second double in 1993, including the header that saw us beat the Spuds at Wembley in the semi-final of the FA cup.
In 1994 he was part of a defence that saw off Parma against all the odds, winning our second European trophy.
With the arrival of Arsene Wenger, we saw a different Tony Adams. He was encouraged to be more attack-minded and we all remember “that goal” against Everton, the final nail in yet another title-winners medal.
In his last season and despite being plagued by injuries, Tony went out in style, captaining yet another double in 2002.
The back four he managed with utter ruthlessness included Dixon, Bould and Winterburn under GG and they were described by one person as “an iconic unit” – we knew that once we went ahead this defence would see anyone off, and 1-0 to The Arsenal was born and sung until the present day. These four players cost just £1,000,000 and Adams was the conductor, the maestro and the leader of this brilliant defence.
His international career saw him win 66 caps between 1987 and 2000, leading his country a total of 15 times.
Tony retired at the age of 36, becoming a club legend, a one team player, and an inspiration to his teammates and the fans alike.
He was offered many opportunities to leave, but never hinted that he wanted to go elsewhere. I believe Tony and The Arsenal were joined at the hip and the club stood by him through the good and bad times.
The word “legend” is bandied about these days for really minor things, but when one looks at this man, his fight with his personal demons, his dedication to our club, his immense presence on and off the field and his ability to walk the walk and talk the talk (as he described in his book), the word legend sums this man up completely.
Tony Adams, I salute you for being the man you are, for loving the club as much as I do and just being a normal bloke.
Adams and Arsenal = Inspirational: