We Gooners talk a lot about Arsenal legends, Thierry Henry, Cliff Bastin, David O’Leary, Liam Brady, Tony Adams and Herbert Chapman to name but a few. One perhaps we don’t appreciate as much as we should is still at the club.
Patrick James Rice was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 17th March 1949.
He made the right back position his own and made 528 appearances (of which an amazing 521 were starts) for the first team across 14 years. During that time he won the League and FA Cup double in 1971 and after becoming the club captain in 1977 he would go on and win the FA Cup for a second time in 1979. He was also a Northern Ireland international, winning 49 caps.
Pat also holds the club record, alongside Ray Parlour and David Seaman, for 5 FA Cup Final appearances.
Pat left the club in 1980 for Watford but returned to The Arsenal in 1984 to take the role as Youth Coach, winning 2 FA Youth Cups.
The resignation of Stewart Houston (who was himself the caretaker manager after the sacking of Bruce Rioch) led Pat to briefly take the reigns as caretaker manager in 1996. The 3 games that Pat resided over all ended in victory.
After the arrival of the Le Boss, Arsene Wenger, later that month Pat was given the role as Assistant Manager and it is a role he still holds today. As many of you will know, we have had incredible success under this partnership winning 3 League titles, 2 FA Cups and reaching a Champions League Final in 2006.
“Did I like it? No. It has never been one of my ambitions to be manager of a football club. It was too stressful for me and extremely strange not to have the manager with me. He is normally shouting in my ear.”
There have been rumours for the past 2 or 3 seasons that it would be Pat’s last at the club and there have also been grumblings that we need a stronger number two alongside Arsene to perhaps tell him where we are going wrong. Some say after 16 years as Le Boss’ number two, they are too familiar with each other to criticise. I can’t see that. Watching Pat bark orders from the sidelines, he does not strike me as a shrinking violet. If he disagreed with Arsene on anything, I’m sure he’d tell him.
It has also been said that Pat may be looking to retire to spend more time with his wife who has been ill. Whether this is true or not, I can’t honestly say but if it is, I wish Pat and his wife all the best.
For me, the day that Pat Rice leaves the club will be a sad one. For 44 of the last 48 years he has bled the red and white of The Arsenal and for that we should be eternally grateful.
Tony Adams may have been given the title of Mr Arsenal but I am sure it is one he will not mind sharing with Pat Rice. It is worth noting that Pat has been involved, as player or coach, in all 3 of the clubs Doubles! He was also voted 17th in The Gunners Greatest poll of 1998.
This season more than ever, would appear to be Pat Rice’s last but whenever the great man decides his time at the club has come, he will always be my Mr Arsenal.
Me and Pat in Marseille
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