The statistics don't lie. Kenny Sansom is one of the finest full-backs England has ever produced. And at Arsenal, he is held in similarly high regard.
Sansom came to Highbury in 1980 from London rivals Crystal Palace and was already an established international. Still, though, there were rough edges that needed smoothing if he was to properly fill the boots of the then aging Sammy Nelson.
|Arsenal Career||1980 - 1988|
|Appearances||394 (394 starts, 0 as a sub)|
Sansom was an accurate passer and devastatingly quick over short distances. But with that pace came great adventure that, in his early years, was occasionally misjudged. Sansom's forays forward set the tone for the modern full-back and, as his tactical nous grew, the Arsenal man became the complete defender.
Despite his relatively small stature, Sansom was strong in the air, and he was never one to dive in when the ball was on the deck. The Highbury crowd tagged him 'Kenny White-Shorts' as a result but it was a term of endearment for a man who won their hearts with his timely interceptions.
As the 1980s progressed, so too did the influence of Sansom and in 1987 when Arsenal beat Liverpool to win the League Cup, it was the left-back who led the side at Wembley. A first piece of silverware then, but he hadn't exactly been shy of accolades.
Sansom earned international acclaim - his 86 England caps remains a record for a full-back - plus praise from his peers. For eight consecutive seasons he was named in the PFA Team of the Year at left-back, a record that no-one has come close to emulating.
George Graham, and the emergence of the Back Four, forced Sansom to ply his trade elsewhere. Newcastle was one of six clubs which enjoyed the fruits of his labour before retirement in 1995. He now works in broadcasting, often providing co-commentary for Arsenal TV Online's matchday show.