Tag Archives: winger

The Walcott Consensus

We’ve been blessed with strikers.

The best of the best belong not only in our Hall of Fame, but amongst the finest o have kicked a ball on these shores.

Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright. Three household names, each one conjuring up instant images for us all of the heroics they entranced us with on the pitch.

It doesn’t stop there though.

Alan Smith, Robin Van Persie – they both performed above and beyond in our colours. While the Dutchman may have sullied his reputation with his departure and the term surrounding it, his numbers and performances were exactly what we have come to expect from a player pulling on an Arsenal jersey. He pulled average players up a few notches, he was the man that the team revolved around in his last two seasons.

Arsenal have others too, that on paper, certainly warrant respect and gratitude for what they achieved during their stint. Short or extended, they banged in the goals while they were with us. Eduardo, Olivier Giroud, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they have held the line for us and left us with memories of some spectacular moments.

It is obvious that some will split the fanbase. Some will have the stock of a player higher than others.

And that is very much the case for Theo Walcott.

The speedy wideman will result in some very contrasting opinions from whomever you ask.

This article is here to say though, that he undeniably deserves to be amongst the best in The Emirates era.

Skill-wise, he won’t quite register amongst the heavy hitters.

But let’s look at the facts – and let’s take his name out of the equation and look at the numbers ina  transparent way. Let’s look at the stats with a mindset of a scout, or an unknowing fan.

Or perhaps even better, let’s say this is a pub quiz – and here are the questions:

What Arsenal player has the sixth most goals for the club in the Premier League?

What Arsenal player has the 7th most assists for the club in the Premier League?

What Arsenal player averaged a goal or assist every two games?

What Arsenal player has the eighth most appearances for the club in the Premier League?

Walcott scores

These numbers scream of a player who made an impact. Who made a difference while they played for us.

We all know that Walcott at times infuriated us. We know that there was a time when the player insisted that they should play in a different position, despite his coach knowing that a wide forward position would get the most from him.

Despite all that though, for us he gave his all and was the consummate professional in the eleven years he played in the red and white.

Walcott also had a handy knack of scoring in the big games – a mark of a player who belongs in amongst the best.

His first goal for the club? A cup final (the League Cup final of 2007).

He scored in an FA Cup Final, Semi-Finals, he petrified Barcelona and scored against the Catalan giants. He scored against Liverpool, Man Utd, a hatful against Chelsea – and we can all remember his contributions against the enemy too.

When we needed him, for the majority of his time, he came up with the goods.

Goals, assists, showing up in big games, surely he deserves a little more recognition than he currently gets?

I’m not here to say he was one of the best in recent memory, because he wasn’t.

But was he better than his reputation?

I hope this might go a little way in changing at least one person’s opinion.

Arshavin – Wasted Genius Who Made Memories

Players define eras.

Trophies make memories of course, but a player normally surmises that memory.

Sunderland in 79.

Champagne Charlie in 87.

Mickey in 89.

Smith in 94.

Bergkamp in 98, Freddie in 02, Thierry in 04. Santi when we lifted the cup in 2014. Alexis in 2015. Rambo in 2017.

It is a player who acts as anchor in your mind, ensuring that special memory doesn’t get cut adrift in amongst the plethora in your banks.

When you think of The Emirates, of course it doesn’t hold as many fond memories as Highbury, but we have had some goosebump-inducing goals and games in the 14 years we have called it home.

We may often bemoan the lack of atmosphere in the ground, but those who go often will also attest to the fact that we also create a cacophony when we want to. It often just needs a spark, something to get us off our seat – and then the wildfire of noise erupts and engulfs the stands.

Remember our 5-2 wins over the enemy? Two consecutive triumphs that served as timely reminders to our neghbours of their rightful place under the heel of our boot?

Then there was Danny Welbeck’s emotional return from injury – a late, late winner over Champions-elect Leicester City. The England striker’s 93rd minute header earned victory over the previously indomitable Foxes, and the dramatic nature of the goal coupled with the fondness for the now fit-again Welbeck created a noise that has rarely been matched since.

But when it comes to halcyon moments, can anything touch Andrei Arshavin Vs that Barcelona team?

The Russian, free from the laziness that would blight his Gunners career. His confidence to nonchalantly sidefoot home a first time finish that would vanquish a Barca team that would go on to win the competition. A Barca team that would only lose once in the entire competition – this very game?

We think of that game, we think of Andrei, we think of the commentator scream his name as he finishes the Catalan’s with aplomb.

He did a fair amount more in his time in our red and white of course. His goal vs Blackburn was pretty special – and then there was his four goal haul against Liverpool in an unhinged match at Anfield.

Arshavin

Tongue out, just enjoying the moment as he single-handedly tore Liverpool apart. Holding four fingers aloft when he smashed in his fourth goal.

Arshavin joined on the back of a virtuoso Euro’s for his country. We saw him twist defenders apart, lead from the front and give an industrial Russia divine inspiration. It led to us forking our a decent sum and he initially showed what he was capable of.

His was a career of peaks and troughs. He fizzled out nearly as quickly as he soared into our hearts, unable to wrestle his way back into the first team and gaining weight, he left Arsenal and seemingly never recaptured the magic that laced his boots when he was with us and in the first team.

Arshavin definitely didn’t make the most of what he could do. The Russian’s talent had no ceiling, yet we only saw it hit the heights in probably five or six games.

Yet it was so brilliant, so bright, that it seared its impression into our memories.

We remember Arshavin well, even if he didn’t meet the expectations that we had for him.

That shows what a player he was.

We can be thankful he played for us though, as he created some of our best moments in recent years.

Iwobi Needs To Push On Next Season

Alex Iwobi divides opinion like he divides opponents legs.

Our very own ‘Nutmeg Prince’ has been a first team fixture since 2015, but speak to some and his name will be one of the first names on the departure list this summer.

Our very own Academy product has failed to grow his contributions since Arsene Wenger stated in his last season that the Nigerian’s final product was the one thing that needed to improve. Wenger mentioned that the attacker had everything else in his locker, but the most decisive part was still the one weapon Iwobi really needed to hone.

And the stats don’t lie.

Of course, numbers don’t always give true perspective on a player. They offer a certain viewpoint and shine light on certain facets of a player, but like holding a gemstone to the light, you won’t see every part until you look at it from all angles.

The same applies to Alex Iwobi.

Iwobi Pic

 

The Nigerian scored three times and claimed six assists in 35 appearances in the Premier League this season. The season before saw the same amount of goals and one assist less.

Now this plateauing of numbers could be attributed to a new coach, new system, new tactics, training etc. It will at least have a contributing effect, but another variable is that Iwobi still hasn’t drastically improved his final ball – or final decision.

It is abundantly clear that Iwobi has the touch and the tell-tale attributes that comprise the makeup of a great attacker. At times we have seen him produce slide rule passes and touches that bewitch his opposing number.

We have also seen him make the wrong decision time and time again.

The good thing is, this can be taught. Remember that Iwobi is still nowhere near his peak and so is still developing.

The saving grace for Iwobi too, is that we have no one in the squad that adds what he does.

His particular skillset is based on confrontation with opposing fullbacks and producing opportunities either through a pass or creating them for himself. He goes past players like they are mere apparitions at times, and he does it better than anyone in the team, like it or not.

So he has a place as he can change games. He seems ideally suited to an impact sub role at the moment, but he isn’t far away from unlocking his true potential. The problem is patience.

It seems like Iwobi has been on the scene for some time, but this was only his third full season in the first team. Yes, he should have a better final ball right now, but there aren’t many his age – Hudson-Odoi is an exception – that bring to the table what he does.

Iwobi is on the precipice right now. His natural ambition will be to want more than to be a squad player at Arsenal – but that is where he is right now. He has the key to unlocking so much more in his locker, but he must listen to those that know better. The extensive array of backroom staff, his teammates who have gleaned worldwide experience. If he can learn from others then there is hope of seeing Iwobi push on.

Next season sees a fresh challenge for Iwobi. With Reiss Nelson, Jo Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe coming back into the fold, he has more competition for his spot. It is clear that he will have to not only do more than what he has done this season, but also he has to act as a big brother to those younger than him. That is the essence of a team, and Iwobi has a role to play.

The Nigerian has the world at his feet, but the next step is the most precarious. Fingers crossed we see the new and improved Iwobi next season.

Fan Favourite Freddie

Professional footballers have become even harder to reach.

The pedestal they stand upon has reached a heady height, craning your neck up to see this sporting icon and suffering dizzying vertigo as a result.

Social media, a tool that should shorten the gap between ground level and the clouds upon which they sit, instead drags them further away from your lowly position. A constant stream of images from far flung places gives you the initial experience of being ensconced in their world – but it is a different plane, sitting parallel to yours.

It of course used to be different, but the last two decades has seen an exponential rise in a footballer’s stock. Image is everything, but it isn’t as if we never had players who were iconic.

The hair, the clothes, the whole package screaming of the super-cool. From Charlie George in the 70s, Champagne Charlie in the 80s, Wrighty in the 90s – they were always the most popular amongst fan picks.

My personal favourite?

Freddie Ljungberg.

The super Swede immortalised himself with his red hair, bringing the fans adoration close simply with the right choice of hair colour (Danny Rose tried and failed).

He was a good looking fellow, no dispute, but it was his hair that made him an icon, coupled with one other asset.

His knack of scoring goals – important goals.

Was there another of his era who was better at ghosting into the box? His timing was perfection, his finishing unerring, his hair bright red.

Freddie with PL trophy

Goals flowed, and his debut against Man United in 1999 saw a lobbed finish over Peter Schmeichel that lives long in the memory.

I tried to recreate his hairstyle, only succeeding in making my hair pink and waiting days for it to wash out. It was my attempt to pay homage to a player who had become my idol. There was no social media then that allowed a window into their life. I simply had to read up on whatever titbit of info was available.

My hair travesty aside – I am now bald like the man himself and this style is much easier to manage – Ljungberg earned his way into our hearts because he gave his all on the pitch, and his goals were a huge reason why we won the title in 2002. His run of goals in the business end of the season kept us afloat. Bergkamp could find his incessant runs easily, and when in the box, Freddie always found a way.

He is often overlooked in terms of his importance to that great era, but the right side of midfield was always an option for whomever was on the ball, and he dutifully did his defensive duties effectively.

In short, Freddie had no discernible weakness, aside from his infernal wisdom teeth, which put him out of action for many games on separate occasions. Has there been a player who has possessed his particular set of skills since? Perhaps Rambo, but has the Welshman done it with such panache?

Did he do it with red hair?

Freddie will always hold a special spot in my memory, because he was the first player who I wanted to be. He was the first player I put on the pedestal and aimed to be like – and I got a neck ache in the process.

Freddie is now managing our kids, and we get to see him often. His red hair might be gone, and the barrier between player and fan is still high. Even sans-rouge locks, Freddie oozes cool, and I know that should the barrier come down and I get a chance to meet him?

I’d still be a mess meeting my hero.

Kolasinac Deserves the Spotlight

Unai Emery has brought with him many changes since he was drafted in to herald in the post- Wenger era.

 

Many of them were not his choice. Backroom staff such as Raul Sanllehi were brought in slightly beforehand but are very much part of the new dynasty that Emery is meant to hone into success.

 

Others are very much stamped with the Spaniard’s touch. Matteo Guendouzi is part of the new breed for Arsenal, but some of the existing players have transitioned to the new methods far better than others too.

 

One of those is Sead Kolasinac.

 

The burly Bosnian has been the stampeding horse on our left hand side, so often providing the outlet our play needs when we are stemmed in the final third. Kolasinac has also been perfectly placed for Emery’s experiments with the wing-back system – five technically at the back, with the left and right backs flying forward to also provide the width sorely needed by our team.

 

It requires excellent stamina and the decision making that allows the player to gauge when to fly forward and when to sit back.

 

The stamina has never been in question, but the ability to judge when to assist his attacking brethren is sometimes lacking.

 

On more than one occasion we have seen a gaping maw on our left hand side that has been vacated by yet another Kolasinac rampage. The truth is though, that unless we have a full-back that is of the ilk of Bixente Lizarazu, Maldini and our legends of Dixon and Winterburn, we will never truly eradicate ourselves of that occasional weakness on the flank.

 

Mistakes will be made, no player is infallible. Kolasinac though, has at the very least, truly optimised his exertions in the final third.

 

Sead+Kolasinac+Alex+Iwobi+Arsenal+Training+cSbi_GK_tKrl

 

His unstoppable runs to the byline have seen him create more chances this season than any other Arsenal player. That is quite some feat with the creative talents on show at the club. The next best player in terms of opportunities made?

 

Another vilified player in Alex Iwobi.

 

Both have combined well and offered something different. True, both have their failings, but they are at least justifying their spots in the side.Iwobi is enjoying his best ever season in terms of return – at the time of writing he has four goals and six assists – yet both do not enjoy the favouritism that some players enjoy. The adulation never quite reaches them, but take them away and what do we have?

 

A team completely devoid of thrust, instead choosing to pass sideways. Like it or not, our left side has been predominant in terms of where our goals come from.

 

Kolasinac especially, has done himself proud whenever he has donned the shirt this season. Compare this to last season when he was very much a fringe player, lurking in the shadows created by the reliable Nacho Monreal.

 

This campaign has seen the player that terrorised the Bundesliga come to roost at the Premiership, and we are benefitting from it. The Bosnian is one of our dangermen – and we should recognise how good he has been, rather than choose to focus on the one mistake he makes every two or three games – which is far fewer than most.

 

Kolasinac has been fantastic, and long may it continue.

 

Suarez Is A Gooner

We had no funds. We were told that signings would be difficult.

So to add a player from Barcelona in this window – and one of real pedigree – is no mean feat.

Our loan signing of Denis Suarez is a bit of a steal really, and some shrewd business by our backroom team. The loan deal until the end of the season means we get a decent window to gauge if Suarez is Arsenal material or not – with an option to buy should he impress. Barca protected their interests too, by persuading Suarez to sign an extension before he departed for London.

And impress he should. Suarez has been sworn in as a replacement for the outbound Aaron Ramsey, and Suarez can fill the void left by the Welshman – although goalscoring is not his strongest suite.

What are Suarez’s strengths though? His technical ability – unsurprising coming from the Nou Camp – is his main asset. A great first touch and a decent pass on him means he can be used in the same positions that Ramsey normally occupies.

It is well documented that the Premier League requires a higher level of physicality than the other top European leagues, and Suarez may find the going tough at first. Fear not though, for suarez is familiar with the rigours of English football after hsi spell at Manchester City back in 2011-13. He didn’t exactly force himself onto first team plans, but his two years with City means he will be more familiar with the language – often a deal breaker with new signings – and it means he may require less acclimatising than others.

Unai Emery has often spoken of Suarez, despite the move not being confirmed – and Suarez has played under Emery at Sevilla for a season, where he played 31 matches for the now Arsenal boss. That indicates that Emery was convinced of Suarez’s qualities, which bodes well for us.

Since that loan spell, Suarez has played for both Villareal and Barca, but in the last season, he has found it a little tough to impose himself on the first eleven, being used primarily as a squad player.

denis_suarez_arsenal_transfer_news_premier_league_gettyimages-959245432

 

He will enjoy far more games with us, especially since Emery has hinted that Suarez is due to be used mostly out wide, where we are in dire need of bodies. Iwobi aside, we are sorely lacking men who have white paint on their boots. With Mkhitaryan injured currently, Suarez could find himself in the first team quicker than he would have imagined.

Make no mistake, Suarez has what it takes to make an impact in our side, and physicality aside, we have a man that can damage opponents with his passing and his touch, which is covered in velvet.

At 25, Suarez is approaching his best years, and hopefully they can be with us. With the Europa League becoming of critical importance in our season with our exit in the FA Cup, Suarez is another body we can rely on when the fixtures come thick and fast.

Emery wants him at the club – and that is a rubber stamp of his credentials.

Welcome to Arsenal, Denis Suarez!

Nelson’s Brave Loan Move

A few months ago, I penned a blog looking at the future of starlet Reiss Nelson.

It was on the back of his breakthrough season at Arsenal. He had impressed in pre-season, and his displays for the Under-23’s the campaign prior were filled with rave reviews and tongues wagging about this precocious talent.

He was rewarded with a prominent place amongst the Europa League squad, where he looked every inch a first teamer. While his trickery was dialled down a smidgin, his effectiveness and work rate were just as impressive.

It left Nelson at a crossroads in his fledgling career, and with his contract entering its final year, I surmised his options and where each path could take him.

Enter Unai Emery, and the Spaniard has picked up where Wenger left off, in terms of leaving the door open to our Academy graduates. Jo Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith-Rowe  and Nelson have all been included in first-team affairs and while first team opportunities have been hard to come by in our first games this season, the arduous nature of the season hasn’t reared its ugly head yet and that is where these kids can feature.

Nelson has obviously seen enough to know that his immediate future lies with Arsenal, as he has been persuaded to ignore the inevitable approaches, and sign on the dotted line for the foreseeable.

Reiss-Nelson-contract-2018

His new deal will see Nelson ply his trade in the Bundesliga this season, as the winger will play for Hoffenheim for the campaign.

This move is an incredibly brave one for the youngster.

There would have been opportunities to remain in England, at the cutting edge of the game still, and up his minutes on the pitch.

Instead, he has gone to an exciting foreign side, managed by one of the hottest coaching properties in the game.

Julian Nagelsmann is an incredibly young manager, but what he has done for Hoffenheim in a short space of time has placed him on the radar for all the European giants.

Most importantly for Nelson though, is that Nagelsmann has a firm grasp on modern, tactical football. It will enable Nelson to adapt and come back into the Emery fold with more tools in his armoury.

Nelson has gone to Germany where communication for even the simplest things will be difficult. It is the better opportunity for his career though, and a great barometer to gauge where he needs to be for his Arsenal future.

Nagelsmann has already commented on Nelson before he signed, saying “If it all works out, we’ll have a great player with pace who can do a lot with the ball.”

Nelson could well follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who moved permanently to Dortmund and has since seen his stock rise immeasurably. While Nelson has committed his future to Arsenal, a move to the Bundesliga can pay off handsomely. The tactics and the level are high, and Nelson, if he gets enough starts, could come back a far more polished diamond than we had before.

So we will all keep a close eye on events in Hoffenheim. To watch a player we all know has the skill, but if he can make it at a tender age in a foreign land, then his mental fortitude and hunger will be exactly where it needs to be too.

Minutes into his first outing, Reiss scored and made an instant impact.

Good luck Reiss, we are all rooting for you.

Joel Campbell – Arsenal’s Forgotten Man

Did you know that Joel Campbell is now our fourth most capped player – ever?

He earned his 72nd cap as an Arsenal player in the 2-0 loss to England in a pre-Cup friendly which made him our 4th highest at the club, level with David Seaman.

Looking at it from a distance, this is quite some achievement. Yes, Costa Rica doesn’t have a plethora of competition for places like other nations, but a fine injury record and a maintenance of form has seen Campbell rack up the appearances for his home nation.

What really puts it in perspective though, is when you consider how little he has played for his club – and the lengths he has had to go to in order to get gametime.

Campbell has been with us for seven years. That’s a mighty long time, and yet his Arsenal appearances amount to just 23 – most of those during 2014-2016.

To get that crucial time on the pitch, Campbell has gone on loan spells to Ligue Un with Lorient, La Liga with Real Betis and the Greek SuperLeague with Olympiacos – in all of those seasons he earned more starts than in his combined and lengthy Arsenal career.

What has the Costa Rican done to be shunned like this? Is it a limitation on talent? Certainly not. He may not be a permanent starter, but in his time in an Arsenal jersey he showed exactly what he has to offer. He has incredible strength, he can adapt across the forward line, playing wide and cutting in, or ploughing a lone furrow up top. He has an assured touch and isn’t terrible in front of goal. Campbell is more than good enough to be an option in the squad.

Joel Campbell, the forgotten Gunner

And yet we will never see him wearing an Arsenal shirt again. After seven years as an Arsenal player in nothing but contract, Campbell will never play on our Emirates turf.

This will be his second World Cup at just 25 years old. He has amassed experience across many corners of Europe and still has potential, but Campbell has worn an Arsenal shirt for the last time.

If he did manage to assuage Unai Emery to grant him a squad place – a place on the bench would be tough enough to acquire.

As a wide forward, he faces competition from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

As a centre forward, Aubameyang, Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are his opponents.

With our attack well stocked, it is likely we have seen the last of Joel Campbell, despite it being unconfirmed as I write. He can consider himself unlucky to not have been given a fairer crack of the whip, but the Costa Rican can hold his head up high when he did play for us.

Chances are that Campbell will join Galatasaray, and a lengthy Arsenal career that never truly threatened to take off, for whatever reason that is, draws its curtains.

Reiss Nelson Has A Decision To Make

As a youngster breaking through into a Premier League first team squad, the odds are stacked.

Reiss Nelson is amongst a few Gunners kids who’ve made the transition from successful Under-23 prodigy to useful squad member for the first team – but now Nelson has a decision to make, with his current contract entering its final throes.

And it’s one that will decide how his career pans out – the skeletal remains of previous blossoming talents serve as the most potent reminders.

Reiss Nelson has seen plenty of action in the Europa League so far, and has made his bow in the Premier League and domestic cup competitions this season. His exciting displays and swashbuckling style have drawn admiration from fans, who mostly believe him to have a glittering future ahead of him.

Will it be in an Arsenal shirt though?

If he continues his current trajectory, then he will become an increasingly relevant player in our side. It’s a big if, but on what we’ve seen, he definitely has a place in first team plans in years to come.

With youth comes impatience however, and there are some glaring pieces of evidence that the grass may well be greener elsewhere – in the form of Marcus McGuane and Chris Willock.

McGuane became the first Englishman to play for Barcelona’s first team in recent years, with his substitute appearance in the Catalan’s Supercopa de Catalunya final. McGuane actually made his first team debut for Arsenal ironically as a sub for Reiss Nelson in our 4-2 win over BATE Borisov, but McGuane was drawn to the potential of a big move, and is doing well for Barca’s B side.

Then there is Chris Willock, brother of our midfielder Jo. The gifted winger opted for Benfica rather than bide his time at Arsenal. His first season in Portugal has been strictly for Benfica’s B side, and options to move back to England on loan were turned down.

Could the lure of early stardom bring about an end to Nelson’s tenure at Arsenal?

So many kids have come and gone through the revolving door at our club, but not many have had the talent that Reiss does. His star is a rising one, but a move to a club that stunts his development with a lack of playing time would shrink hsi potential, setting a well-worn path that many youngsters tread – that of a journeyman swilling around the lower reaches of professional football.

Nelson also needs to have assurances from our club that his first team chances are as healthy as ever, and he will get windows of opportunity. He also needs to play more than he did this season.

So, Nelson is at a crossroads. He can look at Ainslie Maitland-Niles, Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere to see what could happen for his career, should he continue to knuckle down and concentrate on his football.

Or he could opt for sunnier climes, but with a far steeper incline for success. The light at the end of the tunnel may well be brighter, but in the dark it’s hard to tell whether the tunnel is longer or not.

Reiss Nelson has a decision to make.

What would you do?

Rocky Remembered

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.”

Sometimes, words fall short, but not the quote above.

Any attempt to give a label to the man who is responsible for the above quote is pointless, because sometimes, words cannot justify what we have, or had.

David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle is the epitome of the word ‘legend,’ but that oft-used moniker doesn’t begin to cover the impact the player and man has had on not only our club, but generations of fans.

How does a player become the equivalent of amber? Their story forever encased to enjoy, a yarn passed down to neverending eras of support.

Rocky is held up as the example to all of what we want from a player. He is the barometer for the swashbuckling, brave football we all desire.

He is the gauge for the devotion we want our players to have for the cannon.

He is the level with which we use to judge the man behind the boots, jersey and pitch exertions.

Rocky was cruelly taken from us far too early, and it’s painful to imagine what role he would have with the club today.

Because he would undoubtedly still have ties to Arsenal should he be around today, for his love for Arsenal knew no bounds. He had the skills to pass down to today’s young bucks, he had the sage mentality to make sure lessons were learned, he had the fierce will to win that should be embedded in all professionals. He would have been a fantastic coach.

He is already an ambassador to the club, despite him not being with us in tangible form. We hold Rocky up and embrace him as a symbol of not only the happiest of memories, but of gratitude that such a player graced us with his presence.

There are many fans not lucky enough to have seen him in the first person and what he could do to an opponent. His twinkling feet were a blur, his shifting of direction was subtle and ruthless, leaving defenders with no idea how to stop him other than a petulant kick. Even that was something that he could deal with. The reason? Because he was schooled in The Arsenal Way, and knowing he had his teammates backing him no matter what is one hell of a confidence boost. He never backed down, he never shirked a challenge, he never gave an inch. If he wanted something, he went and got it.

He gave us goosebumps with his exploits, but he also gave us so much more, even today. He’ll always be a hero to us.

He is immortalised as not only a blessed player who adored the crest that adorned his chest, but as a man too – and that speaks volumes. Rocky was the local lad come good, he was the wing wizard who bewitched us all, he was the man who displayed everything we wanted to be.

His famous quote is famous because not only does it sum up the man to a tee – but it is also a fine mantra for your own life. “Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.”