On this day in 1984, Tony Adams signed his first professional contract with Arsenal.
The legendary defender joined Arsenal in 1980 when he was a schoolboy and never played for another club his entire career, something that’s increasingly rare in modern football.
— Arsenal Chennai SC (@ArsenalChennai) January 30, 2017
Born in Romford on 10 October 1966, Adams didn’t make his senior debut for Arsenal until 5 November 1983 against Sunderland just three weeks after he’d turned 17. The Gunners lost 2-1 and the youngster was partly to blame. However, as we all know, the centreback soon hit his stride in the First Division and became the youngest ever captain at the tender age of 21 after winning his first medal in the 1987 Littlewoods Cup Final.
Adams would remain Arsenal captain until he retired in 2002 after 663 starts and 48 goals for the club. He became perhaps most known for being part of George Graham’s unshakable back four along with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould. A defensive line that many still hail as the best of all time.
The Englishman’s international career wasn’t quite as impressive. He made his debut against Spain at Euro ’88 and went on to make 66 appearances for his country, scoring five. However, injuries, not getting picked for the World Cup 1990 squad, being given shared captaincy before it being given to Alan Shearer and disagreeing with Glenn Hoddle as a result hampered him.
Following his time at Arsenal, Adams went into coaching, starting his sports science degree at Brunel University and eventually taking over at Wycombe Wanderers in November 2003 only for him to resign a year later.
Unsuccessful stints at Portsmouth and Azerbaijani club, Gabala, mean that we probably won’t see the no-nonsense centreback taking over at Arsenal any time soon but he’ll always be remembered for his two decades bossing the backline.
In December 2011, Adams’ famous celebration was cast in bronze and placed outside the North Bank of the Emirates.