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Anthony Alexander "Tony" Adams, MBE (born 10 October 1966 in Romfordmarker, Greater Londonmarker) is an Englishmarker football manager and former defender. He is the former manager of English Premier League side Portsmouth.

Adams spent his entire playing career of 22 years at Arsenal, and is considered one of the club's greatest players of all time by the club's own fans and was included in the Football League 100 Legends. He wore the number 6 shirt for Arsenal and 5 for England. With Arsenal, he won four top flight division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and three FA Community Shields.

Club career

Adams was born in Oldchurch Hospital, in Romfordmarker in the London Borough of Haveringmarker. He grew up in nearby Dagenhammarker and was a pupil at Hunters Hall Primary School from 1971 to 1978 and then Eastbrook Comprehensive School from 1978 to 1983.

Adams signed for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his first team debut on 5 November 1983 against Sunderland in the First Division, four weeks after his 17th birthday. Adams became a regular player in the 1985-86 season, winning his first major trophy in 1987 when playing in the Football League Cup final win over Liverpool at Wembleymarker.

Together with Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, Adams was part of the "famous four" that lined up in Arsenal's defence, which under George Graham was renowned for its well disciplined use of the offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21; he would remain club captain for the next 14 years until his retirement.

Adams strong discipline of the defence was considered a factor in Arsenal winning the League Cup in 1986-87 and then the First Division championship twice; the first in 1988-89 after a win over Liverpool in the final game of the season against Liverpool; the second in 1990-91, losing once all season.

In 1992-93 Adams gained the distinction of being the captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double, lifting the European Cup Winners' Cup the following year.

Despite this success, a battle with alcoholism, which started in the mid 1980s, increasingly blighted his life as he was reportedly often involved in fights in nightclubs. On 6 May 1990, Adams crashed his Ford Sierra into a wall near his house in Southend-on-Seamarker, and when breathalysed he was found to be more than four times over the legal drink-drive limit. On 19 December that year, at Southendmarker Crown Court,[13368] he was imprisoned for four months (being freed after half of his sentence on 15 February 1991) but after being released, his alcoholism continued and he was involved in further alcoholism-related incidents, including playing through a match during the 1993-94 season despite being hungover, falling down stairs and needing 29 stitches to a head wound, and letting off fire extinguishers with team-mate Ray Parlour in a Pizza Hut where they were being taunted by supporters of rival clubs.

Finally, on 14 September 1996 Adams admitted to the public that he was an alcoholic and, after seeking treatment, found a more sensitive side to his character emerging, which included a return to education and an attempt to learn the piano. He became one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK; his battle with alcohol is heavily detailed in his autobiography, Addicted, which was released in May 1998 to enormous critical acclaim.

His recovery and rehabilitation were helped in no small part by the arrival of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in October 1996. Wenger reformed the club's dietary practices and the players' lifestyles. Wenger stuck by Adams following his confessions about his drink problem, and the improvements in the regime probably extended Adams's career by several years. Adams rewarded his manager's understanding handsomely, captaining the club to two Premiership and FA Cup Doubles, in 1997-98 and 2001-02; he is the only player in English football history to have captained a title-winning team in three different decades.

In August 2002, just before the start of the 2002-03 season, Adams retired from professional football after a career spanning almost 20 years, his last match being the last league game of the season at home to Everton (the 2002 FA Cup Final was unusually played before the last league fixtures). He played 668 matches for Arsenal (only David O'Leary has played more) and was the most successful captain in the club's history. The number 6 shirt that Adams wore when playing was not used again until the 2006-07 season, when it was assigned to Philippe Senderos.

Just before his retirement as a player, Adams had applied to become manager of Brentford (who had just missed out on promotion to Division One) after the resignation of Steve Coppell, but his application was rejected.

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' 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, Adams was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game, and in 2008 he was placed 3rd in the "50 Greatest Gunners" poll on the club's website.

International career

Adams made his debut for England against Spain in 1987, and played in Euro 88, scoring one of England's two goals. He was the first player to represent England who had been born after the 1966 World Cup win.

After a highly promising start to his international career, Adams suffered a series of setbacks during the early 1990s. He was surprisingly left out of the 1990 FIFA World Cup squad by manager Bobby Robson, and missed Euro 92 due to injury. However, he still maintained a regular place in defence, and after the retirement of Gary Lineker in 1992, Adams unofficially shared the captaincy of England with David Platt, though Adams became England captain outright before Euro 96, as Platt's place in the side became less secure. England reached the semi-finals of Euro 96, before losing on penalties to Germany.

When England manager Glenn Hoddle took the Captain's armband from Adams and gave it to Alan Shearer it was a bitter pill for Adams to swallow. Speaking at a fans' forum in 2008 Adams remarked "I have some resentment over the way Glenn Hoddle gave the captaincy to Alan Shearer instead of me but I can let that go. I reacted positively. I disagreed with him [Hoddle] and he thought Alan could get more penalties being a centre forward. People know my reaction to that".

Adams continued to play for the national side, however and he finally appeared in a World Cup finals in 1998. His international swansong was England's largely unsuccessful Euro 2000 campaign. With Shearer retiring from international football after the tournament, Adams regained the captaincy. However, within months, England lost a World Cup qualifier to Germany in October 2000, the match being the last to be staged at Wembley Stadiummarker before the stadium was torn down for rebuilding. That match was Adams's 60th Wembley appearance, a record. With Sven-Göran Eriksson eventually taking the helm and under increasing pressure for his place from the emerging and improving Rio Ferdinand, Adams retired from international football before Eriksson picked his first squad. He was the last England player to score at the old Wembley Stadium when he scored England's second goal in a 2-0 friendly win over Ukraine on 31 May 2000. This was also his first goal since he scored in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in November 1988, thus making the record for the longest gap between goals for England.

Managerial career

After starting a sports science degree at Brunel Universitymarker, Adams became the manager of Wycombe Wanderers in November 2003. He was unable to prevent the club's relegation to League Two that season, and although the club were top of the table in August 2004, a loss of form saw them fall down the table. He resigned from Wycombe in November 2004, citing personal reasons. He was succeeded by John Gorman.

On 7 July 2005, Adams accepted a trainee coaching role with Dutch side Feyenoord with special responsibility for its Jonge team, which is a reserve/junior side. Adams later had a short spell seconded to Utrecht as a first team trainee coach, between 15 January and 2 February 2006.

On 28 June 2006, Adams joined Portsmouth as assistant manager to Harry Redknapp, a position left vacant by the departure of Kevin Bond. In his first season as assistant, Portsmouth finished ninth in the Premier League - their highest standing since the 1950s and won the 2007-08 FA Cup. On 25 October 2008 Adams was appointed caretaker manager of Portsmouth, alongside Joe Jordan, following the departure of Harry Redknapp to Tottenham Hotspur. He was subsequently appointed full-time manager on 28 October 2008. He was sacked on 9 February 2009 after just 16 games in charge in which Portsmouth picked up only 10 points.

Adams has served as a part-time Arsenal scout starting while he was at Feyenoord, watching games in Italymarker, Francemarker, and the Netherlandsmarker.[13369]

Charitable work

In September 2000, as a result of his own experiences with alcoholism and drug addiction, Adams founded the Sporting Chance Clinic, a charitable foundation aimed at providing treatment, counselling and support for sports men and women suffering from drink, drug or gambling addictions. The clinic, which works to the twelve-step programme philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous is based near Liphookmarker in Hampshire and includes Kate Hoey, Alex Rae and Elton John as patrons, and is supported by the Professional Footballers Association. Adams's former Arsenal and England team mate Paul Merson, himself a recovering alcoholic, is also a patron of the charity.

His Arsenal testimonial match helped raise £500,000 for his charity, the Sporting Chance Clinic.







Season Club Division League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1983-84 Arsenal First Division 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
1984-85 16 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 18 0
1985-86 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 0
1986-87 42 6 4 0 9 0 0 0 0 0 55 6
1987-88 39 2 4 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 51 2
1988-89 36 4 2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 43 4
1989-90 38 5 3 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 46 5
1990-91 30 1 3 1 4 2 0 0 0 0 37 4
1991-92 35 2 1 0 3 0 4 0 1 0 44 2
1992-93 Premier League 35 0 8 2 9 0 0 0 0 0 52 2
1993-94 35 0 3 2 3 0 8 2 1 0 50 4
1994-95 27 3 1 0 4 1 10 0 2 0 44 4
1995-96 21 1 2 0 5 2 0 0 0 0 28 3
1996-97 28 3 3 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 35 3
1997-98 26 3 6 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 36 3
1998-99 26 1 5 0 0 0 4 1 1 0 36 2
1999-2000 21 0 1 1 0 0 11 0 0 0 33 1
2000-01 26 1 4 1 0 0 8 0 0 0 38 2
2001-02 10 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 1
Total 504 32 54 8 60 5 48 3 6 0 672 48

International goals

Num Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 11 November 1987 Stadion Crvena Zvezdamarker, Belgrademarker, SFR Yugoslaviamarker 4–1 Win Euro 1988 qualifying
2 23 March 1988 Wembley Stadiummarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker 2–2 Draw Friendly
3 18 June 1988 Waldstadionmarker, Frankfurtmarker, West Germanymarker 1–3 Loss Euro 1988
4 16 November 1988 King Fahd International Stadiummarker, Riyadhmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker 1–1 Draw Friendly
5 31 May 2000 Wembley Stadiummarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker 2–0 Win Friendly


Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Wycombe Wanderers 5 November 2003 9 November 2004 53 12 21 20 22.64
Portsmouth1 26 October 2008 8 February 2009 22 4 7 11
Total 75 16 28 31

1 Adams first game as manager of Portsmouth (a 1-1 draw with Fulham) was in the role of joint caretaker manager alongside Joe Jordan, and prior to his appointment as full manager of the club.

In popular culture

A series of sub-standard performances by Adams early in his career earned him the nickname "Donkey" among rival fans. In his 1998 autobiography Addicted, Adams revealed that during his imprisonment for the drink-driving offence he received a postcard with a picture of a donkey from a supporter of a rival team. Just before he was sent to prison, Adams was fined £1,000 by the Football Association for making an offensive gesture at Queen's Park Rangers fans who were provoking him with donkey noises. [13370]

Adams remains a popular figure with Arsenal fans. In December 2008, more than six years after he left the club, Adams led out his Portsmouth side onto the pitch at Arsenal to be greeted with the chant "There's only one Tony Adams" by Arsenal fans. [13371]

On the album 'Rock Art and the X-Ray Style' by 'Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros' there is a song named Tony Adams. Joe Strummer believed that he should have been captain of the England Football Team. Although the song takes a much more subtle approach, it is mostly about freedom but dedicated to Tony Adams.

See also


  • Adams, Tony. Addicted. (London: CollinsWillow, 1998) ISBN 0-00-218795-7


External links

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