Tom Whittaker is one of the few men in history who went from being an Arsenal player to Arsenal manager during his career and even became our fourth longest serving coach.

Born in 1898, Whittaker played football his entire life, even when he was with the army and, later, navy.

In 1919, he joined Leslie Knighton’s Arsenal, signing as a professional in January 1920. He eventually made 70 appearances before he hung up his boots in 1925.

Whittaker, who started life as a centreforward before becoming a winger, made his debut against West Brom in April, which Arsenal lost 1-0.

He only scored two goals during his time as a player at Arsenal since after breaking his knee cap on tour in Australia, he was forced to retire.

Whittaker’s time at Arsenal wasn’t over, however. He became the club’s first team trainer under Herbert Chapman in 1927, despite being just 29 years old, and when Chapman passed away in 1934, Whittaker continued under his successor, George Allison.

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Whittaker and his squad

When Allison retired in 1947, Whittaker took over, winning the league in his first season despite having no managerial experience. In fact, he went his first 17 games unbeaten, only losing three that season in total.

He then won the FA Cup in 1950 and the league again in 1953, and became Arsenal’s fourth longest serving manager.

Tom Whittaker passed away from a heart attack in 1956, at the age of 58.

Sources: Wiki,, Woolwich Arsenal.