Tony Alexander Adams MBE, (born October 10, 1966) was an English
football player. He was born in Romford, England, and joined
Arsenal F.C. as a schoolboy in 1980, and never left until he
gave up playing 22 years later.
He made his first team debut in 1983 at the age of 17 vs
Sunderland A.F.C.. Adams captained Arsenal to League titles in 3
different decades (1989; 1991 and 1998; and 2002). This is
Adams also won the League Cup in 1987 and 1993, the FA Cup in
1993, 1998 and 2002 (the latter two as one half of a 'double'
with the Premier League) and the European Cup Winners Cup in
1994. He made his debut for the England against Spain in 1987
and played in three European Championship tournaments - in 1988,
1996 and 2000. He was, however, surprisingly left out of the
1990 World Cup squad by manager Bobby Robson, though finally
played in the finals when named by Glenn Hoddle in the squad for
the 1998 competition. He missed the Euro 92 competition due to
Adams and David Platt unofficially shared the captaincy of
England after the retirement of Gary Lineker in 1992, though
Adams got the job outright before the Euro 96 competition as
Platt's place in the side was less sure. Alan Shearer was given
the armband when Hoddle took over as coach later in 1996, a
decision which surprised and angered Adams and left England fans
puzzled. Adams played for five England managers in total, and
retired from international football at the end of 2000. He
earned 66 caps and scored five goals.
A solid central defender his long service made him almost
synonymous with the steadfast Arsenal defence of the late 1980s
and 90s which, under the management of George Graham, was
renowned for its well disciplined use of the offside trap.
Early in his career, he picked up the derogatory nickname "Donkey"
from opposing fans pointing up his errors, but that term fell
out of favour as his reliability and leadership qualities
gradually outweighed his awkward manner.
Adams was frequently involved in tabloid newspaper scandals. He
was reportedly often involved in fights in night clubs and was
fined for driving in a drunken state several times, and on one
occasion was imprisoned for drink-driving in a swirl of tabloid
Adams admitted that he had struggled against the disastrous
impact of alcohol throughout his career, and after treatment and
retirement, he attempted to reinvent his public persona, by
revealing a more sensitive side to his character, which included
a return to education and an attempt to learn the piano. He is
one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK.
On his retirement, Arsenal retired his number 6 shirt, which was
the first time any English club had done so.
He released his autobiography, Addicted, in September, 1999 to
enormous critical acclaim.
Adams retired from playing professional football in 2002 and
became the manager of Wycombe Wanderers F.C. in 2003. He
resigned from Wycombe in November 2004, citing personal reasons.