An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 12 …… Players with the most club appearances. No. 1

Lets have a look at the only four players who have each made over Six Hundred appearances for Arsenal.

We start off with the only player to have played in over Seven Hundred games, David O’Leary; he is also the only player to have played for Arsenal in Twenty consecutive seasons. He appeared in an amazing Seven Hundred and Twenty Two games, from 1973 to 1993, a record that will be extremely difficult to exceed.

o leary

He was born in Stoke Newington, London on 2 May 1958 and moved to live in Dublin at the age of three. David played for Shelbourne as a schoolboy and signed for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1973. He quickly progressed through the ranks at Highbury, playing in the reserves at the age of 16. He made his first team debut  against Burnley on 16 August 1975, and despite being only 17, went on to make 30 appearances that season. For the next ten years he was ever-present in the Arsenal side, playing more than 40 matches a season (except for 1980–81, where he was injured and only played 27). When the former Arsenal manager George Graham was put in charge at Leeds United in September 1996, O’Leary was installed as his assistant. He remained in this position for two years until Graham moved to Tottenham.

David was voted into 21st position in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players list.

Honours with Arsenal

Football League First Division

Winner: 1988–89, 1990–91

FA Cup

Winner: 1979, 1993

Runner-up: 1978, 1980

Football League Cup

Winner: 1987, 1993

European Cup Winners’ Cup

Runner-up: 1980

Records with Arsenal

Most appearances: 722

Most consecutive seasons 20

Youngest player to reach 100 and 200 games

400 appearances under the age of 26

These are some of his thoughts after Arsenal won the FA Cup replay in 1993.

“We did a lap of honour with the trophy and before I got to the tunnel I thought to myself “‘this is the last time I’ll ever wear the Arsenal jersey again”. It was an amazing night, a brilliant way to end 20 years, but it was such a sad night for me as well.”

It was a night that stretched well into the early hours as the players let off steam after making history. And O’Leary went home with an extra companion when the celebrations finally died down.

“That night – I’ll always remember this – I took the FA Cup home. No one else seemed to be responsible for it so I took it with me.

“My wife drove us home and I remember sitting in the front with the FA Cup in my lap and somebody pulled up at the lights, seconds before it went green, and he looked over and then looked over again, thinking ‘is that David O’Leary with the FA Cup?!’ We pulled away and I still don’t know if that guy thought he was imagining things.

“I remember getting home that night and I thought, if my house gets robbed they are not going to take the FA Cup, so I took the cup up to my bedroom. My kids were young then and the following morning they came in and saw the FA Cup there on the side of the bed.

“That morning I took it to the club and gave it to Ken Friar. I said goodbye to Ken, I actually went to the steps of the old directors’ box at Highbury, had a look out there for the last time, and said to myself ‘hey, it’s been a fantastic 20 years, I’ve been so proud to play here, thanks for putting up with me’.

“Then I walked away, and that was that.”

(Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc.)

The player with the second most appearances at Six Hundred and Sixty Nine is Tony Adams, he played for a total of 19 seasons from 1983 to 2002.

tony-adams 1
Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham, signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

Tony placed 3rd in the Arsenal Arsenal best all time player poll.

Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League

Honours with Arsenal

First Division/Premier League: 1988–89, 1990–91, 1997–98, 2001–02

FA Cup: 1992–93, 1997–98, 2001–02

Football League Cup: 1986–87, 1992–93

FA Community Shield: 1991 (shared), 1998, 1999

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1993–94


Premier League: 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01

FA Cup: 2000–01

Football League Cup: 1987–88

FA Community Shield: 1989, 1993

UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994–95

UEFA Cup: 1999–2000

UEFA Super Cup: 1994

Individual Honours

PFA Young Player of the Year: 1987

PFA Team of the Year: 1994, 1996, 1997

Member in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE): (1999 Birthday Honours)

Overall Team of the Decade – Premier League 10 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2001-02)

Fantasy Teams of the 20 Seasons – Premier League 20 Seasons Awards: (1992-93 – 2011-12)

The player with the 3rd most appearances is George Armstrong, he played in Six Hundred and Twenty One games, in 16 seasons from 1961 to1977.


Born in Hebburn, County Durham, George joined Arsenal as a youth player in August 1961. He made his debut against Blackpool in 1962 while he was still 17 and by the 1963-64 season he had become a regular in the side.

Over his long career with the Gunners, George became one of Arsenal’s most consistent players, and was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing; he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right. As he matured, he became one of the few players of the Billy Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright’s successor Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side, which ended the club’s long trophy drought.

After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967-68 and 1968-69, George helped the Gunners win the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970-71 League and FA Cup double; he was a regular in the Double-winning team that season, setting up a number of goals for his team-mates, which included teeing up Ray Kennedy’s winning header against Tottenham Hotspur, in the match that won Arsenal the League title. He was also voted Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1970.

In 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England and joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he remained at for the remainder of his life, despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent.  On 31 October 2000, while conducting a club training session he collapsed after an unexpected brain haemorrhage; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

George had a pitch named after him at the Arsenal F.C. training ground, in London Colney

The player with the 4th most appearances is Lee Dixon, Lee appeared in Six Hundred and Nineteen matches in 14 seasons from 1988 to 2002 .

Lee Dixon of Arsenal

Born in Manchester, he was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, to Manchester United. This was the first time that he had played in the First Division and it took a while for him to be given a first team role at Highbury. Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar role of right back, though Lee did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years.

He and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while Captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O’Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together and were the foundation stones of much of Arsenal’s success.

His career at Arsenal saw him collect four league champion’s medals, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91.

His retirement came at the end of Arsenal’s domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club.

Lee came in 18th place in the Arsenal Arsenal all time best players poll.




105 Responses to An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 12 …… Players with the most club appearances. No. 1

  1. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Such a great story about Spider taking the FAC home.

    On the way to the ground, we would often stop in to the bookies at Finsbury Park, and have a quid on score and first scorer. Spider was always 40-1. I never cashed in.

    I would never have guessed George Armstrong would have been third.

    As usual, GN5, I learn more. Thank you.

  2. Big Raddy says:

    Brilliant stuff.

    I am surprised Lee was in 4th.

    What separates these players is their ability to avoid lengthy spells out with injury – of course TA had a lengthy spell in .. 🙂

    Also, I find it hard to understand why O’Leary is persona non grata at The Emirates. An AFC legend and a wonderful servant to the club.

  3. LB says:

    Well that was a superb read. Thanks GN5

  4. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Actually, one of my real “wow” Arsenal moments involved O’Leary.

    I was standing inside the Marble Halls on match day, when in walked the big defender. He was greeted by the uniformed Doorman by a “Good afternoon Mr O’Leary”

    I just thought wow, players are even referred to as Mr. What a Club.

  5. RA says:

    Haven’t seen you around much lately, GN5, but you have come storming back with a wonderful read, thank you, again.

  6. RA says:


    I think the picture has been updated since your comment @ 10:51, but that is Geordie, god bless him.

  7. Vinay says:

    I do understand why we do not involve these legends more in the club running. No i do not mean Wenger’s replacement but we can utilize their experience in so many good ways, the players will be so benefited.

    Taking the FA cup home and literally sleeping with it, i mean stories and legendary ones, shows the value of how much it means to them and also what players we had.

    4 of the finest and i totally concur, their longevity is an eye opener to today’s generation who fall like a feather and disappear for ages.

  8. Vinay says:

    I meant i do not understand in the first line.

  9. chas says:

    Excellent as per mertesacker, GN5.

  10. chas says:

    Lee Dixon talking about playing for The Arsenal.

  11. chas says:

    George Armstrong’s daughter Jill is on twitter and puts up photos of her Dad’s playing career. Here are a few.

  12. chas says:
  13. chas says:

    Great balance.

  14. chas says:

    The idea of Geordie pulling out of any challenge was preposterous.

  15. chas says:

    Though that may have been a diving header rather than David Webb trying to take his leg off at the hip!

  16. Gööner In Exile says:

    Armstrong is clearly diving….softie.. 🙂

    Cracking read GN5, Dicko in 4th is testament to the mans dedication, I think we canall agree he was limited, in the famous back four he wasn’t the best full back (that was Nige) but he was committed and never stopped running. Reckon his cross success was worse than any of our current wing backs, but he never stopped.

    Tone is just simply a hero.


    Thanks GN5, superb.

    I was fortunate enough to see all those players.

    1) David Oleary. Great player and magnificent servant to the Club.

    Even though he got me thrown out of the players lounge when we played QPR away, I forgive him.

    2) Tony Adams. Mr Arsenal. What a legend this man is. If homosexuality was compulsory I would do it with Adams.

    3) George Armstrong. I saw him nearer the end of his career but he was still our best player.

    My Dads favourite player, but I don’t hold that against him.

    4) Lee Dixon. What a magnificently crap player this man was. Every thing said he should be shit. Not the greatest technique, not the fastest, not the biggest, but it didn’t matter, he was great.

    After watching Lee , I realised that if I had put my mind to it I could have become rich, famous, and married Felicity Kendall.

    But I didn’t.

  18. Gööner In Exile says:

    Vinay’s your question is warranted, would any of these men be useful, well Dicko and Tone probably, but Dixon has his media career, and it is clear Tone has struggled in management.

    I am reminded of Henry Blofeld (Blowers to Test Match Special listeners) question and answer that I heard. He was asked why Boycott and Botham were not in the coaching set up of England cricket, his response was probably true of so many ex sportsman:

    I absolutely would, as long as we could get Geoffrey to concentrate on anyone but himself for five minutes and Botham to concentrate on just one thing for more than five minutes.

  19. eldergooner says:

    Thanks GH5 , great post.
    BR 1036. Me too . Don’t get that . Someone on here must have the story ?

  20. Big Raddy says:

    2012/13. Our net debt = £93m

    Chavs net debt = £958m
    MU net debt = £295 + £72m p.a interest
    Newcastle = 133m
    QPR = 177m !Aston Villa = 189m

    No wonder we struggle to compete

  21. The morning after Arsenal won the Cup V Sheff Weds in 1993, I received a phone call from David O’Leary to come over to his house as he had something that he wanted to show me. It was of course the FA Cup. His wife took photos of us posing with the trophy, which I proudly have at home.

  22. The photo of ” Geordie Arnsrong ” is I believe Jimmy Logie !

  23. Good it’s been changed, or did I have a senior moment ?

  24. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Martin went round O’Leary’s to touch the Cup
    Crystals had George Graham at his wedding, and
    I have not had full sex with Charlie George.

    You other lot are having to go some to keep up with us three.

  25. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Driving home listening to the radio, and Maureen’s had a falling out with Hazard.

    With Mata gone as well, looks like the last embers of flair are being ousted.

  26. Might as well boast that Peter Storey, Bob Mcnab and Ian Ure were at my wedding. Mcnab was one of my witnesses. And there’s more, perhaps for another day……much more , in fact.

  27. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh just fuck off Martin 🙂

    Can’t keep up, as there’s no-one else I haven’t slept with.

  28. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Actually, Martin, it’s not a bad idea for a post.


    Arsenal related biggies.
    I touched so and so…
    I was there when…
    I nicked…

  29. Big Raddy says:

    I’ve had dinner with someone who once cleaned Tony Adams car.

  30. RA says:

    Well you haven’t slept with me, Micky — but I live in hope! 🙂

  31. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Compared to not sleeping with Charlie George, that’s frankly a pathetic attempt 🙂

  32. MickyDidIt89 says:

    The ship has sailed, RA 🙂

  33. MickyDidIt89 says:

    God I’m bored. Have to go out to a dinner party, and I’d far rather watch television 😦

  34. stevepalmer1 says:

    Evening all, fine fine post N5
    The amount of games these guys played is amazing, Hopefully some of the present team can last that long, Sags must be close.

  35. RA says:

    If one of you remind me, I will tell you something tomorrow that could change your lives!!

  36. Big Raddy says:

    RA. If it has anything to do with not sleeping with Charlie George I don’t want to know.

  37. arnie says:

    Fantastic stuff as ever, GN5. so much to know about Arsenal. almost everything about David O’Leary today was new to me. 🙂

    Sorry for the fleeting presence. Short but sweet. will catch up over the weekend. 🙂

  38. arnie says:

    Chums: if we are organising a day out for the FA Cup Final, please can we plan quick. Mrs and myself would like to join in. But we have to buy flight tickets, so have to be quick.

    If it is a pub near the Ems, just a YES vote will be enough. If it is in the Ems, …. ticket fairy, please, pretty please. 🙂

  39. arnie says:

    The game has changed a lot, I think. These records are probably never to be broken.

  40. RA says:

    No, not that, Raddy, that’s a secret …….. oops

  41. arnie says:

    what suspence, Redders! 😛

  42. chas says:

    Get writing, please.
    It sounds as if you have plenty of material for loads of posts.
    Any insight into Arsenal players lives would be fantastic. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see your photos.

  43. chas says:

  44. chas says:
  45. arnie says:

    Some poignant thoughts from Arsene regarding managerial longevity.

    “If you want quality people in any job, you need to give them time to develop,

    “[Managers] need time to become good or people with the quality will not come into our job any more.

    “The average (job life) expectancy at an English professional club, at the moment, is 11 months, and that is quite unstable.

    “Every guy who is married, has a family, will have a big hesitancy before he goes into that game.

    “That means the quality of the coaching and the quality of the managing is under threat.”

  46. arnie says:

    More Wenger, this time on FFP: “There are rules to apply for the financial fair play. If you don’t respect them, you have to apply the rules. One of the rules is that normally you should be banned for the excess of the financial amount that is not justified, that is if you are £100 million overboard, you should be punished for £100 million of your wages bill in the Champions League.

    “I want to see that respected. If that is not respected, then the financial fair play will have problems to be respected in the future because everyone will just not consider it at all.

    “When Uefa sells the rights of the Champions League to a French TV station, it is very difficult to explain to them once they have paid the money that the best club in their country will not play in the competition, so that might be one of the reasons behind [not banning any team from CL].”

  47. chas says:

    Interesting, arnie.

    The whole of human interaction is now short-termist. The question used to be, ‘where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years’ time?’, now it’s 5 or 10 months’ time.

    FFP will only be as effective as its punishments allow.

  48. Rasp says:

    Apologies for my late arrival. Thanks GN5, I always get to read your fantastic posts before chevron else and you never disappoint – great job 😛

  49. Gööner In Exile says:

    “Tickets are priced at £5 for adult Members and £3 for concessions in the lower tiers and £10 for fans who wish to sit on Club Level. Gold and Platinum Members will also be provided with a £10 food and drinks voucher to be spent on the day in the stadium kiosks.”

    First round on Peaches, LB and 26May 😀

    Ok so who’s in? It’ll seem weird sitting in the stadium watching on the jumbo screens and singing not having an effect, but it’ll be better than watching at home alone.

    Worst still my gardener starts on Momday 12th, he’s a friend of ours from years back….but a bloody Hull fan!!! If I see HCFC etched into a sleeper I’ll be peeved.

  50. OK, Mickey. Night Night !.

  51. arnie says:

    GiE: myself and mrs would love to go. if any of you can arrange tickets, second, third and fourth rounds on us! 🙂

  52. Gööner In Exile says:

    Arnie reckon it’ll be General Sale so shouldn’t be an issue getting tickets, may have to see if seats are allocated, will be pointless going if we all sit miles apart.

    I’ll do some digging.

  53. arnie says:

    GiE: 🙂

  54. arnie says:

    Hope everything OK, GN5? Very unusual of you not to come on at some point!

  55. MickyDidIt89 says:

    All week my weather predictor has promised sun for Saturday. Now the little sod has changed it’s mind 😦

    Martin 🙂

    Tickets for the FAC Final at the Ems. Kind of agree with Exile, that unless it’s unallocated, which I doubt, it would be a bit pointless.

  56. chas says:

  57. chas says:

    We have brilliant sunshine here. Oh and frost on the ground.

  58. Morning

    Brilliant sunshine here too …….. sadly no sea 😦

  59. chas says:

    Isn’t your garden a sea of beauty?

  60. chas says:

    Even if the seats at the Ems were allocated, couldn’t you work out who’s going and then just get one person to purchase them?

  61. I’ve just sent a load of emails about the cup final at the ems.

    I’m assuming it’ll be allocated seating, I can’t see Arsenal opting for a ryanair style bun fight. I’m happy to cobble together all our
    memberships to get a block booking ……….. need to know who wants to be included.

    Booking for Gold members opens on Wednesday so I’ll know more then. I could be able to book up to ten seats using all memberships on Thursday.

    Micky – do you want to be included?

  62. Sea of beauty …… maybe I’ll nip out and take a pic 🙂

  63. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “Isn’t your garden a sea of beauty?”

    Ok Chas. Two things going on here. One, you’re trying to get Peaches into bed, or two, you’re planning on life as a poet.

    If it’s two, then I’d give out the same advice I would to Chary on life as a musician 🙂


  64. chas says:

    Yes please and then load it on twitter and post the comment link here, ta.
    My osteospermum is looking rather splendid this morning. 🙂

  65. chas says:

    Rose’s are red
    Violet’s are blue
    Peaches goes commando
    So f*** you.

  66. chas says:

    Apostrophes intentional btw.

  67. MickyDidIt89 says:

    All I can do at this stage is volunteer my two cards, as I haven’t decided.

  68. chas says:

    Right off to the gym.
    Hope to see a photo of your resplendent borders when I get back, peaches. 🙂
    Up yours, Micky. 🙂

  69. chas says:

    Oscar would love it. Though it is a long journey.

  70. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Ha ha

    All bets as to you making it large as a poet are now off 🙂

  71. chas says:

  72. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Dream on, Chas 🙂

  73. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wow, love that Adams goal so much.

    Could easily be my favourite of all time.

  74. Wow, they’re a bit big, sorry i don’t know how to make them smaller.

    chas – I’d love to see your Osteospermums 🙂 Put them on here later.

    Anyone else want to share ‘sea of beauty’ pics?

  75. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ooo, lovely Peaches, and you really do have sunshine.

    Love the colour contrast of the lavender against the Mediterranean coloured wall backdrop.

    Makes me come over all poetic and sensitive, but best wait for Byron to get back from the gym.

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:

    mmm, moderation

  77. Why?????????? I’ll have a look

  78. I have no idea ……. unless we’ve had a troll called Byron lol

  79. Just opened the bbc sport football page

    to see what pleasures there are for a girl with one arm to watch today and Fellaini was upset that Moyes was sacked ……. maybe if they’d both been better at their jobs he wouldn’t have been.

    West Ham v Totts at 12.45
    Everton v Man City at 5.30

    …… and sunderland to complete a fantastic few weeks by beating Ryan Giggs’ manure at 3pm??????????

  80. RA says:


    I have to say your sea of beauty both from and rear look splendiferous!

    A word of warning: Whatever Chas says, don’t let him show you his osteospermum! Bit like the eyes of Kaa in Jungle Book – there will be no escaping! 🙂

  81. Morning Redders, thank you, it’s so frustrating just looking and not playing in the garden 😦

  82. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all, Sun shining through the windows, but sadly my garden doesn’t look that good, Question, how does someone with only one arm keep a garden that fantastic.
    Get well soon Peaches 🙂

  83. Hover on my Gravatar steve and you’ll see I’m a Garden Designer, it’s easy when you know how 😉

  84. stevepalmer1 says:

    Splendid, I’m green with envy, sadly not in the fingers.

  85. arnie says:

    Motning all. Dry here, but there is a permanent Haar settled in, sun struggling to peep through.

    Hilarious stuff. Particularly Byron’s poetry @ 7:10.

    Redders: ah, so you are here! Just a reminder to shoot of with your promised exciting story.

    Peaches: email sent. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  86. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    How can I get pics onto to site without a twitter a/c?

    My terrace is a thing of beauty especially with the new steamer chair Mrs Raddy bought as my birthday gift.

  87. arnie says:

    Raddy: my problem as well. maybe AA we should have a common twatter account that we can all use. 🙂

  88. arnie says:

    out now. drive to Durham should be nice. laters. 🙂

  89. Raddy – you’ve got an iphone, get on twitter!! Its so easy, take a pic, send it to twitter and then copy the link to here ……. even I can do it.

    ……. I’d lend you my twitter but I cant remember my login details 😦

    or email me the pics and I’ll tweet them, you too arnie ……

  90. There is an arsenalarsenal twitter account ……. just a minute, i could send you those login details ………….

  91. Gööner In Exile says:

    Have a man coming to make this a bit more child friendly.

    And presently I have a club hammer in hand taking a shed apart for digger access.

  92. I hope you’re leaving that little wall so George can jump off 😆

  93. We have a New Post ………………..

  94. White Bear says:

    trying again

  95. White Bear says:

    and again again again


  96. White Bear says:

    one more time


  97. I loved O’Leary as a child.


    An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 12 …… Players with the most club appearances. No. 1 | Arsenal Arsenal

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