Tony Adams had been a mainstay of Arsenal’s defence for more than ten years
New era at Highbury
George Graham was sacked by Arsenal early in 1995 and after a brief spell with Bruce Rioch in charge, an unknown Frenchman was given the manager’s job.
Arsene Wenger took over at Highbury in 1996 and changed the face of the club forever.
Wenger recognised he had inherited an outstanding defence that was a solid base to work from. He signed technically gifted players Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit, Marc Overmars and Patrik Vieira within months of his arrival.
This new attacking flair perfectly complemented Arsenal’s solid defence and they became an unstoppable team, winning the title for the first time in seven years in 1998. They also won the FA Cup that year to complete the first League and FA Cup double of Adams’ career.
Under Wenger Arsenal were now playing the best football in the country and had shed the reputation of being boring to watch. They got to the UEFA Cup Final in 2000 but were beaten on penalties by Turkish side Galatasaray.
Wenger sold Overmars, Anelka and Petit and replaced them with Henry, Wiltord and Pires but Adams remained a constant in the team and Arsenal got to the FA Cup Final in 2001.
They outplayed Liverpool and would’ve won the game but for an inspired Michael Owen grabbing two goals late on to secure a 2-1 win.
Arsenal bounced back in style though and in 2002 they won another League and Cup double beating Liverpool to the title by seven points and Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup Final.
That was Adams’s final season in professional football and he left Arsenal in style leading them to a domestic double.
The booze and back again
The early part of Adams’s career was darkened by his addiction to alcohol which led to several high profile incidents. He was arrested for drink driving in 1990 and served two months in jail.
He publicly admitted to being addicted to alcohol in 1996 but recovered to enjoy a successful career and play well into his thirties.
After he retired from playing, Adams set up the Sporting Chance Clinic, a charity to help sportsmen and women battling with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.