Arsenal Legends: A Definitive List

Who are the true Arsenal legends? Words like ‘legend’ and ‘hero’ are bandied around too easily these days, along with ‘World Class’ and ‘Let’s watch X-Factor’. But some do achieve true legend status in the history of the world’s greatest football club, so here’s my definitive list.

My criteria for legend are either a huge contribution over an extended period and/or being responsible for at least one defining moment in Arsenal history. Thus not all the Invincibles get in, nor all members of Double teams. Also I’m only including those who’ve played, though some qualify for the list because they’ve contributed in other ways too.

Some legends are bigger than others so there are three Legend status levels to differentiate. So in roughly chronological order:

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20 thoughts on “Arsenal Legends: A Definitive List

  1. id put sol in there because he made a huge move to join us from the spuds when he could have gone anywhere and he was so good, he is a gooner

  2. Number one for me will always be Bergkamp.
    I think we have some possible future legends with us now,but obviously a long way to go.
    Plenty there I never saw play,so can’t comment.
    Those I did say play,well,your ratings are pretty much on the money.

  3. There is one glaring omission that you have made, and sadly so many other Gooners would do the same. Every member of the famous back 5 rightly gets a mention, but they each had the others to rely on. But what about the man whose goals won not one, but two league title single handedly. Top scorer in the first division for two title winning teams!!!!! What about the man who scored the winning goal in the Cup Winners Cup Final? And who scored one and laid on the Mickey Thomas goal at Anfield

    Step forward Alan Smudger Smith. Not only the most underrated player in Arsenals history, the most underrated player anywhere in 40 years of watching the game.

    No list of legends that includes Ray Parlour, a loveable rogue but not in the same galaxy in terms of his value to the clubs history, or Limpar, can omit this man. Indeed, given not the just the amount of goals (not as many as Wirghty), but their critical importance (contrubuted more in terms of real signficance than Wrighty), I think he has a strong inclusion for Gold standard. Quiet, effecient, without the bluster that sadly characterises modern football (including the overrated rubbish currently turning out for our club), Smith was that rare animal – A footballing great who didn’t meet the vulgar ‘star’ status required for modern society.

    In short, a gold plated Arsenal legend.

  4. Peter Simpson was a true Arsenal legend and in my opinion the most underrated players of all time and it is astounding that he never played for England – Gold!!!!

  5. Normally when I see these sorts of lists my head drops as I know what is coming. But this one is pretty much there. I agree with the commentards that Smith should be there and not sure about Parlour. He only blossomed from 1998 onwards when he benefited from being given so much space due to the opposition having to put two players on each of Bergkamp, Anelka, Overmars, Petit, Henry, Pires, etc.

    • Smith and Sol are certainly the two whose absences most have commented on, here and on twitter. Good point on Parlour; he is the one who qualifies most on attitude.

  6. didn’t Liam Brady left Arsenal at 24, just like Cesc? No disrespect towards Liam but honestly wondering why one is looked upon as a Legend(Gold!) and other is not?

    • Interesting comparison between Cesc and Brady. For me (and I was present as a very young boy at Brady’s debut in 1973), Brady was the better player and shone like a diamond among the lumps of coal that largely surrounded him. Cesc had better players with him, though not generally as good as he is/was. Also the manner of Cesc’s departure lowers his status, and these days you can play at top level (ie CL) without leaving the country, whereas in 1980 Italy was by far the best league to test yourself in. Perhaps there is an element of being spoilt by the number of great players we have seen in recent years, which certainly wasn’t the case from 1973-80.

      • well,I haven’t seen Brady play so i will take your word for Brady being a better player.
        The only justification you have given for exclusion and inclusion of Cesc and Brady is that Cesc departure lowered his status(which i disagree ) and Brady has to move to Italy to test himself at highest level.btw isn’t it the same way for cesc? he has to move to Barcelona(which is his home club and right now the best team in the world) to win Trophies and it was also inevitable from the day he joined that he would one day go back to his boyhood club.

      • Cesc has not been responsible for winning anything at all, and also refused to ask for a transfer in the hope of getting a ‘loyalty bonus’. That behaviour rules him out. He may be in a better team at Barcelona, but he’s not playing against better opponents. In 1980, Brady was. As I said, the highest level now is Champions League, and you can play in that just as well from England.

      • I don’t think Its worth to have a conversation with you.how an earth can anyone blame cesc for not submitting Transfer request? and I’m pretty sure you would be the first person who would blaming cesc if he had submitted the transfer request.

        Brady left arsenal to play in highest level (Champions league) – Legend
        Henry left young arsenal side to win ucl with barcelona – Legend
        But Cesc left arsenal to his boyhood club and the best club in the world to win trophies – Not a legend,traitor… #Hypocrisy

      • It’s really quite simple. Cesc wanted a transfer to Barcelona. Cesc had a clause in his contract saying that if he was sold by Arsenal without asking for a transfer he was entitled to a loyalty bonus of approximately £4m. So instead of asking for a transfer, Cesc invented a series of incurable hamstring injuries and refused to play, refused to sign for anyone except Barcelona (which kept the transfer fee down because there was no competition), and got other people to agitate for a transfer on his behalf. When it looked as though the Arsenal Board would rightly refuse to let Cesc go for a knockdown fee of £30m, and he and his incurable hamstrings would have to suffer another winter in the terrible cold of London, he ‘generously’ agreed to waive his ‘loyalty bonus’ so that the fee Arsenal got was effectively £34m, which was still cheap.

        Henry had already helped Arsenal win trophies; Cesc hadn’t.
        Brady left to play in the Italian League, not the Champions League.
        I have no problem with Cesc wanting to go and play for his boyhood club and win trophies with them. What I have a problem with is explained in my first paragraph above. If you don’t get that, then it’s not worth me having a conversation with you.

      • You remind me of my gooner buddy Vivek, Like you he also blames Cesc for his hamstring Injuries,which clear shows your hatred towards Cesc and You speak like you didn’t know “it was inevitable from the day cesc joined that he would one day go back to his boyhood club only”.
        Btw henry had world class players(paddy,Pires,Dennis etc) alongside him,who did cesc had,huh?

        Like i said earlier its not worth having a conversation with a person who blames his players of NOT submitting transfer request and accuses them for faking injury.

  7. No Herbert Chapman, the man who made the club what it is? Are you mental? He should be top of the list, without him there would be no rest of list.

  8. Step up Giles Grimaldi, never set the world alight, but on a night in Italy, when we were being bullied by Simone and his pals, this chap stepped into legendary status, by standing up for The Arsenal, and refused to be bullied….. That act alone, cements his place for me

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