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.
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
Winner: 1979, 1993
Runner-up: 1978, 1980
Football League Cup
Winner: 1987, 1993
European Cup Winners’ Cup
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.
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.
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
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 .
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.