To celebrate the 50th birthday of Arsenal legend Tony Adams, we take a look at some of the highlights of his illustrious playing career. During his twenty-year love affair with the club, the defender made a staggering 669 appearances, winning ten trophies and scoring 48 goals, a true Arsenal legend.
1987 League Cup Final
At the tender age of 20, Adams won his first competitive honour with Arsenal, contributing to a narrow 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the 1987 League Cup final. Later described by George Graham as his “Colossus”, Adams defensive discipline was central to their success, he even played a part in Arsenal’s equaliser. The game proved to be an important milestone in the club’s history, as beating a Liverpool side that had dominated football during the 1980s provided the foundation for an era of success under Graham.
1988/89: First Division Champions
Adams quickly made a name for himself amongst the Highbury faithful, and his efforts were recognised in January 1988 when he was given the captain’s armband at the young age of 21. The following season, after an eighteen-year wait, he helped Arsenal dramatically secure the league title. Needing to beat Liverpool by two goals in the final game of the season, Adams stole the ball off John Barnes in the 90th minute, beginning the final attack that saw the Gunners double their advantage and take the league trophy back to North London, an iconic moment.
1992/93: Domestic Cup Double
During the 1992/93 campaign, Arsenal completed an impressive cup double. After winning the League Cup earlier in the season, and with the league beginning to drift out of sight, the club set their sights firmly on the FA Cup. Having made their way to the semi-final, only rivals Tottenham stood between them and a ticket to the final. Any goal against Spurs is special but Adams’ winner at Wembley will live long in the memory of Arsenal fans. In the last ten minutes of the game, the defender rose to meet a Merson free kick, emphatically heading home at the back stick to win the game. The Gunners went on to win the competition, edging Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in their second leg at Wembley, following a 1-1 draw in their earlier encounter.
1997-98: The League and Cup Double
The arrival of Arsène Wenger in 1996 proved to be timely for Adams. In addition to helping the defender combat his problems off the pitch – through his focus on match preparation and diet – the Frenchman also played a key role in his development as a player. Under Wenger’s tutelage, Adams flourished and was given licence to play more expansively. This is epitomised by his famous goal against Everton on the final day of the 1997/98 season, which saw him rifle home his shot to top off Wenger’s first title-winning campaign – one of the most iconic moments in Arsenal’s history. The FA Cup duly followed and Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle capped off a historic season for the club.
2001-2002: The Second Double under Wenger
In 2001, Adam was in his thirties, and became increasingly plagued with injuries. Yet, despite his involvement being hampered, he was still able to end his career with one final flourish. This came in the form of yet another league and cup double, which saw Adam triumphantly lift both trophies for the club he had dedicated his life to.