"He was a tremendous player and very unfortunate not to play for England."
Charlie George's tribute to Peter Simpson at the launch of Highbury Square underlined the esteem in which the long-serving Arsenal centre back was held. He was one of the unsung heroes of that legendary 1971 Double side but his team-mates never underestimated what Simpson brought to Bertie Mee's team.
|Arsenal Career||1960 - 1978|
|Appearances||477 (458 starts, 19 as a sub)|
Simpson was on Arsenal's ground staff before he signed as an apprentice in 1961. After climbing through the ranks he made his first-team debut in a 4-2 defeat against Chelsea in March 1964. It was an inauspicious start and Simpson remained on the fringes of the side for a few years. That all changed when Mee was appointed as manager.
The former physio was a big fan of Simpson's and, with Mee's seal of approval, the erstwhile utility man become a first-team regular at centre back. Before long, he had established one of the Club's finest defensive partnerships alongside Frank McLintock.
Like McLintock, Simpson suffered the agonising low of the 1969 League Cup Final defeat before scaling the dizzy heights of success with the 1970 Fairs Cup and the 1971 League and FA Cup Double. Simpson was a mainstay of the Arsenal back four which made history by beating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.
Despite his outstanding contribution at club level, international football eluded Simpson. Alf Ramsey named him in a handful of England squads during the 1969/70 season but he never won a cap. But if that was a source of frustration for Simpson, 477 appearances for Arsenal - the 10th highest of all time - and those 1970s glory days more than made amends.