1966, as an advert once joked, was a good year for English Football as it then that France and Manchester United legend Eric Cantona was born. But it was also the birth year of England and Arsenal stalwart Tony Adams.
During a nineteen-year one-club career, Adams became 'Mr Arsenal' - a no-nonsense centre half in a back four so good (especially at catching strikers offside) that it was immortalised in the hit British Film The Full Monty.
Adams became Arsenal's captain aged just 21 and led the Gunners to two League titles and numerous cup wins domestically and in Europe under George Graham. Never blessed with great pace or athleticism, Adams was dismissed as a donkey by opposition fans. But his excellent positional sense and superb reading of the game led to a 504-game club and 66-cap international career. Not bad for a donkey – and made even more impressive by the fact that Adams suffered from alcoholism for more than half his career.
When urbane Frenchman Arsene Wenger took the reins at Arsenal in the mid-90s, some thought the club's more progressive style would be beyond Adams. Far from it. Adams adapted and thrived and led the club to two League and Cup doubles.
When the club moved from Highbury to The Emirates stadium, three statues of club legends were commissioned. The fact that Herbert Chapman and Thierry Henry were joined by Adams is testament to his greatness.
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