Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders – Day 4

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue our quest for the greatest midfielders to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite defender by voting in the poll at the end of the week.

11. Liam Brady: 1971-1980.

Liam appeared in 307 games over a 9 year period 

Liam-Brady-ArsenalBorn in Dublin, he started his career at Arsenal, joining the club on schoolboy forms in 1971, at the age of 15, turning professional on his 17th birthday in 1973.

He made his debut on 6 October 1973 against Birmingham City as a substitute. Manager Bertie Mee decided to use him sparingly and Liam ended the 1973–74 season with just 13 appearances, four as a substitute.

In 1974–75 he was a first-team regular and shone a bright light in a side that hovered close to relegation. He found his best form under new manager, Terry Neill – his passing provided the ammunition for Arsenal’s front men and Arsenal reached three FA Cup finals in a row between 1978 and 1980. Arsenal won only the middle of the three, against Manchester United in the 1979 final, with Liam starting the move that ended in Alan Sunderland’s famous last-minute winner. He was nicknamed “Chippy”, not for his ability to chip the ball but for his fondness for fish and chips.

Liam was now at the peak of his form and during this time he was voted the club’s player of the year three times, and chosen as the PFA Player of the Year in 1979. Being from the Republic of Ireland, he was the first player from beyond Britain’s borders to win that award. He was the most talented player in what was then a promising young Arsenal side, which was looking to consistently challenge for honours like the Division One title.

But rumours persisted that he was unhappy. And in 1980, Juventus, who were impressed with his performances against them in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup, signed him in for just over £500,000. He spent two seasons with Juventus, picking up two Italian Championship medals, in 1981 and 1982 and he scored the only goal (a penalty) in the 1–0 win against Catanzaro that won the 1982 title. After the arrival of Michel Platini in summer 1982, he moved to Sampdoria, and went on to play for Internazionale (1984–1986) and Ascoli (1986–1987), before returning to London to play for West Ham United.

He won 72 international caps for the Republic of Ireland, 70 in the starting line-up, scoring 9 goals.

After retiring from playing in 1990, he managed Celtic between 1991 and 1993, and then Brighton & Hove Albion between 1993 and 1995.  He rejoined Arsenal in July 1996, as Head of Youth Development and Academy Director. On 30 January 2013, Arsenal announced that he would leave his role as Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy in May 2014.

He is fondly remembered as one of Arsenal’s all-time greats, playing 307 matches for the Gunners, scoring 59 goals and setting up many more.

12. Brian Talbot: 1979-1985

Brian made 327 appearances over a 6 year period.

Born in Ipswich, Brian was a midfielder and began his football career as an apprentice with Ipswich Town in 1968, turning professional in 1972; in the meantime he had spent two seasons on loan with Canadian club Toronto Metros.

BrianTalbotShootPlace.ashxHe made 227 appearances for Ipswich winning the 1978 FA Cup, in the semi-final against West Bromwich Albion, he scored Ipswich’s first goal after just eight minutes. However he was injured on the play when he collided head-to-head with Albion’s skipper, John Wile and he left the field on a stretcher.

In January 1979, he was transferred to Arsenal for a fee of £450,000, immediately becoming first-team player. He played for the Gunners in the FA Cup final of that year, scoring a goal in a 3–2 victory over Manchester United; Brian thus achieved the unique distinction of winning the FA Cup with two different teams in consecutive seasons. The following year he set a club record, as an ever-present in Arsenal’s marathon 1979–80 season, when he played a total of 70 matches in a single season (the club reached the finals of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, but lost them both).

His impressive stamina and fitness meant he played nearly every Arsenal first-team game for the next five seasons, missing fewer than half a dozen League games. In all, the strong and sturdy midfielder played 327 first-team matches for the Gunners, scoring 49 goals. He also played for England, five times while at Ipswich and once as an Arsenal player.

He left Arsenal in June 1985 and joined Watford, he spent a season and a half at Vicarage Road before joining Stoke City in October 1986. His presence helped to inspire the side as Stoke climbed the table and fell six points short of a play-off place. In 1987–88 he made 27 appearances before he left in January 1988 after being offered a player-manager role at West Bromwich Albion. He spent two and a half years in that role before leaving for Fulham in March 1991. After a short spell there he ended his playing career at Aldershot.

He then moved abroad and managed Maltese club Hibernians, where his team won the island’s Premier League in 1993 and 1994, returning to English club football as part of the coaching staff of Rushden and Diamonds, then in the Football Conference, in 1997. After a spell as head coach he was appointed club manager, and at the end of the 2000–01 season Rushden secured promotion to the Football League. In March 2004 he left the club to take over at Oldham Athletic, his spell there ended with him resigning at the end of February 2005.

In 2011, he joined English Premier League side Fulham as a scout where he mostly watches matches in the top leagues for the London club, for example in France or Germany.

13. David Rocastle: 1982-1992

David made 277 appearances over a 10 year period.

gun__1301406982_rocastle12David was born in Lewisham, he spent the majority of his football career playing for Arsenal, joining in May 1982 and turning professional in December 1984. In his early career he faced problems with his eyesight, according to his team mate Martin Keown “They couldn’t work out why David was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: ‘Can you see the goal?’ and he couldn’t. His eyesight was terrible. They sorted him out with contact lenses and his career took off.”

He made his Arsenal debut against Newcastle United in the 1985-86 season and made 26 league appearances, scoring once. He remained a regular player in the first team following the departure of Don Howe and the appointment of George Graham as manager at the end of the 1985–86 season.  In 1987, just before his 20th birthday, he won a League Cup winners medal after Arsenal beat Liverpool in the final at Wembley. He was a member of the Arsenal side which reached the final against Luton Town the following year and he was ever present in the league in 1987–88.

“Rocky” won two league championship medals with Arsenal. The first came in 1989, when he played in every game. Arsenal’s success was sealed when they beat Liverpool 2–0 in the final game of the season at Anfield, snatching the title from the hosts on goals scored. But Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989–90 European Champions Cup because the ban on English clubs in European competition after the 1985 Heysel tragedy still had one year to run. In 1990–91, a knee injury restricted him to just 18 league appearances but he still played his part in Arsenal winning the league championship – losing only one league game all season. The following season he only missed three out of 42 league games.

On 23 July 1992, after nearly a decade at Arsenal, he was sold to league champions Leeds United in a £2million deal, making him their most expensive signing. But the good form of Gordon Strachan and injuries kept him out of the side. He was transferred to Manchester City for £2million, but the move to Maine Road was not a success for him and he only managed two goals from 21 Premier League games. At the start of the 1994–95 season, he was transferred to Chelsea in a £1.25million deal.

In 1994–95, David played in nearly 40 games for Chelsea and scored two goals in the European Cup Winners Cup. The following season his injuries returned, and he played just one more game for the club, in October 1995. On completing his contract with Chelsea in 1998, he joined the Malaysian team Sabah on a free transfer but was unable to stay clear of injury and retired in December 1999.

During his time with Arsenal, David was capped 14 times for England, but did not make the squad for either 1990 World Cup or Euro 92.

In February 2001, he announced that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was hopeful of a recovery. He died in the early hours of 31 March 2001, aged 33.

The David Rocastle Trust is a charity based in London, England founded in memory of Rocastle.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


50 Responses to Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders – Day 4

  1. Red Arse says:

    Wow, some choice names there, GN5, thank you, and wonderful, if scanty, memories brought back with the profiles!

    Unfortunately, apart from Rocky, I only saw ‘live’ bits and pieces, other than videos etc, of Liam and Brian Talbot but I loved them all.

  2. Red Arse says:

    Rockadillo, I apologise for not saying earlier that I read your Monday Post and enjoyed your prose as much as I did the content, which says it all! 🙂

  3. Rob Lucci says:

    Brian Talbot looks like Santi.

    Rocky played with Malaysian team? No wonder I love Arsenal..

  4. Big Raddy says:

    No question in my mind who is the best of these three. I was gutted when Liam left – still am!

    For some reason I never connected with Talbot and still think of him as an Ipswich player despite his playing more games for us.

    Rocky. I was lucky enough to see most of his games. His goal against Everton in the League Cup at Highbury still gives me the chills

  5. RockyLives says:

    Three great Arsenal players there!

    I must have seen Talbot play dozens and dozens of times but, curiously, I find it hard to picture him as a player. I remember him as being tough and reliable but beyond that…. er… not sure. I suspect this is unfair on him as he was clearly a very important part of the team for so long. Maybe he had a bit of the Gilberto “invisible” quality about his play.

    Liam was always a god in our household (apart from his skills, the fact that my parents are both Dubliners added to the affection).

    And Rocastle was a simply unbelievable player who had it all – strength, technique, dribbling, tackling, shooting. Does anyone else remember how, towards the end of Rocky’s time with us, GG converted him to a defensive central midfielder?

  6. RockyLives says:

    Thankyou, as ever, for your kind words.
    Now admit that you love Theo and Per and all will be well with the world 🙂

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    Good morning,

    This weeks vote will be the most difficult so far, and even at this stage, and knowing who will be profiled, I’m still unsure who I will vote for. – Simply far too may great players.

    My Dad was always in awe of Liam Brady’s skills – and his “magic” left foot.

  8. Morning all

    Thank you GN5 for another great read. I’ve just had a sneaky look at tomorrow’s and Thursday’s profiles, how anyone will be able to choose their favourite’s I have no idea. So much class ……. it will be oozing out of the screen 😉

    I hope Irish is about to read about her Liam ……… I’m gonna text her ……..

  9. Red Arse says:

    O.K. Rocky,

    I am going to show my magnaminous side and say that Theo and Per will start off the new season with a clean and blamelessly unbesmirched sheet, as well as with my wholehearted support.

    The first time Theo runs into an oppo defender, trips himself up, or hits a cross into touch on t’other side of the field — I will, of course, magnaminously blame you, in a most deliciously judicious way. 🙂

    Per, on the other hand, has bewitched me with his charmingly lugubrious expression, and giraffe-like co-ordination, which combined with his innate ability to make a 200,000 ton oil tanker look faster than him in a turning circle makes him, as a player, one in a million, or perhaps won in a raffle.

    He can do no wrong in my eyes! 😀

  10. Red Arse says:

    Earlier today someone hinted at frustration that we had not made any signings, yet, other than the ‘freebie’ Yaya Sanogo.

    I was about to leap to Arsene’s defence and say that it takes two to tango, and if other clubs do not wish to sell their prized assets, there is little Arsenal can do.

    Then I cam across this piece and it set me to thinking, that the only evidence that AW had made bids for this player or that came from the despised ‘red top’ media.

    Have a read.

    ” Real Madrid are getting a bit irritated by the way the Gonzalo Higuain deal is happening. It’s been covered very well by El Confidencial in Spain from day one and the Spanish club started to be unhappy when Higuain came out publicly and declared he would be leaving them this summer.

    Florentino Perez was furious and spoke out about the situation, saying that Higuain was a Real Madrid player and that unless anyone matched their asking price he wouldn’t be going anywhere.

    Higuain’s comments may have been more planned than clumsy and it was just a couple of days ago that reports in Spain explained that the player and his camp were trying to push a deal through to Arsenal.

    His tactic from the start could have been to get the price down as low as possible and therefore help the buying team, in this case Arsenal, get him and also give him a good deal personally.
    His father has spoken about Real Madrid showing some flexibility because of the service Higuain has provided on the pitch through the years but the club aren’t impressed and El Confidencial says they are still waiting for anything firm from Arsenal.

    It looks like Florentino Perez has now upped the asking price to €35m which seems odd as it had originally been around €30m according to most outlets in Spain and going upwards seems a strange tactic for negotiations, probably doing more to display the club’s annoyance than anything else.

    If other clubs such as Juventus were still in the picture, then those kind of ‘threats’ may work for Real Madrid but given that it’s only Arsenal who seem interested, and the player wants that move to happen, then it puts Perez on the weaker foot and he doesn’t like that.

    Real would prefer the situation was sorted rather than being dragged out, and want Arsenal to come in with a firm offer they believe is acceptable, rather than one which sees them lose too much face. Higuain pushed Real Madrid into a corner with his original comments and even though it’s accepted he’s going, they don’t want to look too weak.”

    The other side of the coin — perhaps?


    Thank you GN5 and GIE.

    Liam Brady is my childhood hero. I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall up to the age of 37, until my mum and dad forced me to get a job and move out.

    I stood in awe as a boy as the mercurial irishman weaved his magic, His languid left foot was the wand, spell binding opponents and spectators alike.

    He played at his own pace, could slow it down and then quicken things at will. He could not be dispossed of the ball, many tried and floundered as he turned them inside out with a motion of his elasticated hips.

    Once on his left foot, the ball was home, like super glue to a bullied boys buttocks.

    I saw him about 10 years ago at Winchmore Hill overground station. I reverted to childhood and stared open mouthed as he carresed his ticket.

    The little voice was saying go on, speak to him you fool, confess your admiration for the greatest player ever, but i just stared.

    Then he looked at me, smiled and gave me a liitle nod. I beamed back at him and everything was good with the world.

    I may sound like a raving bender for Liam, but that moment filled me with such joy that everytime i think of it, i think wow.

  12. Big Raddy says:

    TMHT. I am so jealous. A smile from the Great Man!

    I had a smile from the Dalai Llama but Liam is so much more impressive

  13. Red Arse says:

    I had a smile from Terry at Winchmore Hill overground station — he thought I was Liam Brady!

  14. Gooner In Exile says:

    Was Talbot a bit if a free kick specialist? Well liked in the Exile household I assume due to his work rate.

    Rocky and his eyesight is stuff of legend, a joy to watch and along with Thomas probably my first outfield heroes. I seem to remember a game where Rocky laid stricken for a while and we all feared the worse but it turned out he had just lost a contact and daren’t move to far trying to find it in the grass!! Such a shame to lose him so young and I’m proud that as a club he has never been forgotten. Oh Rocky Rocky!

  15. Hi
    I remember bradys pass to set up the fa cup win against man poo when we were 2-0 up and poo got it back to 2-2.
    Then Liam took over,simples
    Ps no sign of the hig or the wig ,just some free youngster nothing changes mr Wenger
    Sheep Hagger ™

  16. chas says:

    Super as per, GN5.

    Brady’s goal at 15.00. There’s a bit in this clip that, despite the poor quality, shows what Liam was all about. After he celebrates his goal with the fans and players, he turns to the Shelf arms aloft giving them a visual “feck off you twunts”. Great stuff.

  17. chas says:

    Much better quality version. No Liam sticking it to the Shelf though. 😦

  18. chas says:

    A Noddy goal. Just happens to half a lovely Brady assist. 🙂

  19. chas says:

    Stacks of Rocky tributes on youtube.
    This one is short and sweet.

  20. Magic videos cheers Chas

  21. Ian Ure Face says:

    Part of me loves ” Chippy” and part of me thinks he`s a twunt !.
    The best game I ever went to, the 5-0 dismantling of the Spuds and his magic left foot !.
    The first player ( long before Cesc, Thierry, Judas etc` ) to cause me heartache by leaving our beloved club and if it were today, I would be giving him the same stick as the Judas and Nasri !, but back then I was just too deflated, down and sad to think of anything other than, why ? .
    He also peed me off, when after an Eire vs England game, he refused to swap shirts with an England player stating he would never swap an Irish shirt for an English one !. For living and making a living in this great country, I thought that disrespectful and a bad choice of words, maybe he should have stayed in Eire !…………but that game at Shite Fart Pain !.

  22. chas says:

    In the photo above you can see great uncle DidIt, François, from the Dordoigne.
    He’s the one with the full set and tab captured here in mid-exercise routine.

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    No early exercise today. Late morning for that.

    Anyway Chas. Taking the piss while I’m firming-up, eh?

    Is that a Tour de France pic. I posted one for LB a few weeks ago but it was from a different site. In Paris, popped out of Resto for some fresh air, and saw this fabulous book of photos covering the history of the Tour. Had I liked LB more, I would have bought it for him. Then again, the shop was shut!

  24. chas says:

    Definitely not taking the piss. It was purported to be a TDF photo. It was your pic for LB that got me looking. I couldn’t believe the mountain road surface.

  25. mickydidit89 says:

    Ooops sorry. GN5, thank you again.

    Clearly there’s only one winner in todays’ vote as Best Player, but if it was a heart over head job, then Rocky would win it for me.

    Noddy Talbot as free kick specialist? Well, yes and no. In my North Bank Posse, Noddy was loved and admired but was always a figure of fun. Not entirely sure why. Anyhow, he went through a very short period of taking, and scoring, from free kicks.

    I remember thinking that for those short moments, there wasn’t a single player in the world I’d rather have at Highbury.

    Times were not good in the early 80’s.

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    True Chas.

    Sport ain’t what it used to be. Staggering pictures.

  27. LB says:

    Morning Chaps

    I can’t believe they used to do that in the name of enjoyment.

    I am off to Hertfordshire this morning and shall be passing Peaches beautiful street. The surface is, off course, an awful lot better.

  28. chas says:

    I presume today’s bikes would buckle and crumble in an instant. Just like LB, they’re perfectly honed instruments, strung like a Stradavarius.

  29. mickydidit89 says:

    I notice Chas is not likening me to a finely tuned instrument, despite two whole days of ferocious exercise 🙂

    I would have thought today’s bikes would be stronger. Carbon Fibre and whatnot.

  30. mickydidit89 says:

    Two Poles playing in the Wimbledon Quarters today. Against each other. That has to be a first.

  31. LB says:

    A finely tuned instrument is very flattering but a puffing old man is closer to the reality.

    Carbon fibre is the way to go, light, rigid, the most efficient way to get up hills or mountains.

  32. mickydidit89 says:


    “the most efficient way to get up hills or mountains”

    Wrong. Taxi.

  33. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Brilliant pic of the TDF. Real men in those days – carrying two spare tyres etc.

    Of course they would have been out of their minds on various stimulants. (According to Mr Armstrong ).

  34. Rasp says:

    Gareth Barry for £3.5m … nnnnooooooooo 😦 please tell me its just paper talk. I don’t think I’ll be able to carry on if we buy Barry 😕

  35. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. We have a tradition of buying old, crocked, average players from Manchester.

    Must be true

  36. Rasp says:

    Don’t say that Raddy, it would be the worst signing since Silvestre.

    The totts are doing much better than us in the transfer market at this point. Its obvious that both Bale and Suarez are going as they have already begun to spend the money. The deal with Paulinho (seriously good player) is all but done but Villa is also looking likely with the possibility of Benteke. if they sign those three they’ll be stronger than if they keep Bale.

  37. evonne says:

    Micky – I know, unbelievable!! I want Agnieszka to win of course, she is more Polish than Lisicki

    A little story re hill climbing for you – we were walking to the top of a mountain in polish Tatra in horrendous conditions. Strong wind, -20 degrees, deep snow, just awful. Every now and then a horse sledge full of singing Englishmen would pass us by and piss us off. Eventually we got there. The restaurant on the mountain’s top was full of the lazy bastards finishing bowl of a polish delicacy – tripe soup. And then we had our revenge – they thought they were eating chicken broth – we told them!!! ha ha ha you should see their faces turning green 🙂

  38. Norfolk Gooner says:


    Five years ago I would have been over the moon if we had signed Barry, a terrific player but now? No thanks!

  39. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp seriously why would Arsene sign Barry?

    If we are apparently balking at Fellainis £100 k a week wage demand we would be unlikely to offer that to Barry to match his current salary.

    Or we could just put it all down to BS paper talk that no one has a clue about but does do a good job in selling papers and creating more antipathy towards the club by fans.

    I seriously can’t understand why so many normally rational people get taken in?

    Then there’s Villa? A Good signing for Spuds, ok lets look at him…31 years old, two days ago most people commented that Torres was too old for us to sign?

    Then there’s Benteke, ok one season in PL he looked decent, how many have we said that about in the past and gone on to do very little.

    Can someone confirm who exactly the Tiny Totts have signed yet?

  40. Morning all

    If today’s post doesn’t break your heart then tomorrows most definitely will, I’ll make sure there are tissues available.

    Just going to get the orange squash ready for LB’s team as they pass my house 😉

  41. Thank you GiE ……. 🙂

  42. Rasp says:

    The deal for Paulinho is just awaiting the medical. I can only think he wants one good year’s exposure at the totts and then he’ll move on to a bigger prem club … the downside is they’ll probably make a lot of money on the deal

  43. Rasp says:

    GiE, I’m sure you’re right, we don’t want/need Barry … he’s 32!

    On the other hand there is a familiar smell about our transfer dealings which doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

  44. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. There is a good piece by Martin Samuel on this very subject (on NN)

  45. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy, I can’t find it, can you post a link please

  46. New Post …………………..

  47. Red Arse says:


    I am with you. Despondency has befallen me that because of our transfer dealing history these stories re: Williams and Barry etc have an ominous ring of truth about them, even from dubious sources.

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