One of the most iconic Gunners of all time, Tony Adams signed with the club as a schoolboy in 1980 and played with the first team until his retirement in 2002. Over this span, he captained the team for fourteen years (1988-2002) and won four League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and three Community Shields.
Adams’ time playing may best be remembered as the leader of the “famous back four” that also consisted of Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterbourne. These four were known for their tough, no-nonsense defending during the George Graham years, never shying away from a heavy challenge, 50/50 ball or clearing header. In the days of “boring boring Arsenal”, it was these four who largely kept the score at “1-0 to the Arsenal”.
Despite his quality on the pitch, Adams struggled of it with alcoholism, coming public with his difficulties in 1996. Newly acquired manager Arsene Wenger was sympathetic however, and through his new fitness and dietary regimens assisted Adams in extending his career by another six years.
In December 2011 Arsenal FC unveiled a bronze statue of Adams outside of Emirates Stadium, celebrating his achievements with the club. Once quoted as saying “I’ll sign any contract Arsenal put in front of me without reading it”, it’s easy to see why Gunners fans will always remember ‘Mr. Arsenal’ fondly.