On Tony Adams’ birthday, Lee Dixon has spoken about his admiration for the centre-back and his favourite memory with the captain.

The two Englishman played for Arsenal before and during Arsene Wenger’s appointment and saw a lot of action on the pitch together. They also left the club at the same time.

In fact, Dixon’s favourite moment with the former skipper was at the end of their career in 2002 when they were playing together and Adams told him what a fantastic defender he was.

“It is quite emotional for me and it [happened] right at the end of our careers together,” Dixon said. “I looked up to Tony as a leader of men and I’m sure he looked at me as part of his defence.

“I’m not sure what game it was but it was right at the end of the season in 2002 and Tony was struggling with an injury. We were just about to retire at the end of that season so we were ticking off the days because it was tough.

: Lee Dixon (left) and Tony Adams of Arsenal confront Phillip Cocu of Barcelona during the Champions League
19 Oct 1999: Lee Dixon (left) and Tony Adams of Arsenal confront Phillip Cocu of Barcelona during the Champions League Group B match played at Wembley Stadium, London. The game finished in a 4-2 win for Barcelona. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

“I was 38 and he was 36 or 35 years old, carrying a couple of injuries, and I got him out of trouble as the ball went over the top – I swept up behind him and knocked it back to David Seaman who knocked it up the pitch.

“As we moved up, Tony called over to me and said: ‘Dicko!’ so I looked over to him and he just pointed at me and said: ‘You’re one hell of a full back’. It sort of makes me feel emotional thinking about it now and I sort of went ‘Wow, Tony Adams thinks I’m a hell of a full back’.”

Dixon continued, “That really touched me as I was always one of those players who had to work really hard at my game to stay at that level and I was always thought that someone was going to tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘Time now, you’ve won a competition but now it is time for you to leave’.

“I always had that feeling and it drove me on to try to be better and try to stay in the team as long as I could – 619 games later I didn’t do too bad. That one moment of Tony saying that I’m one hell of a full back was gold dust to me.”

The respect that Dixon still holds for Adams is tangible and I imagine it’s the same for the entire team who played alongside him.

Adams commanded respect and was a true captain. The problem is, he was a skipper that’s hard to replicate and the issue is, now Arsenal fans have seen what a true leader looks like, we’re always left wanting nowadays.

Saying that, who knows, perhaps we have the right man amongst our ranks already.

In the mean time, we’ll all just have to go down to the Emirates and stare longingly at his statue.