Five statues of Arsenal legends adorn Emirates Stadium.
On December 9, 2011 Arsenal Football Club honoured a trio of Club legends by unveiling three statues outside Emirates Stadium as part of the Club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
Innovative manager Herbert Chapman, defensive stalwart Tony Adams and goal scoring hero Thierry Henry have all been commemorated in bronze statues.
On February 22, 2014 Arsenal honoured Dennis Bergkamp by unveiling a statue of him outside Emirates Stadium, and six days later on February 28 the Club commemorated the completion of the Ken Friar Bridge by unveiling a statue of Mr Friar as a youngster.
At a short ceremony attended by Mr Friar himself, family, friends and Club staff, a statue was unveiled at the end of the bridge, opposite the Arsenal Museum at the north end of the stadium.
The statue depicts Mr Friar playing football as a youngster in 1945 in front of the old Highbury Stadium.
Behind the statue is a display telling the famous story that saw Friar miskick a ball underneath a parked car that transpired to be that of the then Arsenal manager, George Allison.
So impressed was Allison with young Mr Friar’s enthusiasm that he was told to report to his office the next day, whereupon he was offered a job as a messenger at the stadium on matchdays.
From that day on, Mr Friar became a loyal servant to the Club and over the course of the past 60 years and more has been instrumental in the success of Arsenal during this time.
The icon, which is located outside the Clock End, to the south of Emirates Stadium, commemorates a Club legend who enjoyed an 11-year career in north London.
A large crowd witnessed the unveiling of the statue by director Ken Friar, which depicts Bergkamp in action for Arsenal at Newcastle United in a Premier League match on February 9, 2003.
The former Holland international joined Arsenal from Inter Milan in June 1995 and went on to make a total of 423 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals. During this time he treated supporters to some of the most exhilarating and skilful play seen by any Arsenal player ever.
He played an integral part in Arsenal winning seven major honours, including the Invincibles’ unbeaten Premier League season of 2003/04.
Mr Friar, who unveiled the statue, was the Club’s managing director at the time Bergkamp signed for the Club. “Arsenal Football Club is proud that this statue of Dennis Bergkamp will be on display outside Emirates Stadium," he said. "Dennis contributed so much to the Club, while at the same time treating Arsenal fans to some of the most exciting football ever seen in this country.”
“This will now give Arsenal fans and visitors to the stadium an opportunity to remember this legend and pay their own tributes to this great man. This statue is immortalising a true fans’ favourite and celebrating the wonderful contribution of a simply unique footballer, whose skill and ability were an absolute joy to behold.”
Bergkamp said: “I am just so honoured and today makes me very proud. It is great to come back and see everyone at Arsenal again.
“Everyone knows I love Arsenal and I had such a great time at the Club. The fans, the staff and my team-mates were fantastic. The team was also amazing and we had a lot of success over the years. For me and my family it was such an important and enjoyable period in our lives.
“This is such a special moment to come back and be honoured in this way.”
The first statue to be unveiled was that of Herbert Chapman, who was Arsenal manager between 1925 and 1934. Chapman’s team won the league four times in five years, and his development of advanced diets, fitness and tactical approaches was revolutionary.
The direct, attacking style of players like Alex James, Cliff Bastin and David Jack, who featured in Chapman’s ground-breaking WM formation brought great success to the Club before his untimely death in January 1934 at the age of just 55. The statue of Chapman is located underneath the clock close to the Danny Fiszman Bridge and sees him looking towards the Stadium as a symbol of the Club’s progressiveness since he revolutionised the Club.
The nearest turnstiles to the Chapman statue at Emirates Stadium are L & K.
The statue of Tony Adams, which is located outside the North Bank at Emirates Stadium, is commemorating an Arsenal Legend who enjoyed a 19-year career at his only club. Adams joined Arsenal as a trainee in April 1983 and quickly progressed through the ranks to become the Club’s captain in 1988 at the age of just 22.
During his Arsenal career, Adams made a total of 669 appearances placing him second in Arsenal’s all-time appearance records after David O’Leary. He is the most successful captain in the Club’s history, leading Arsenal to ten major honours.
This statue recreates the iconic pose adopted by Adams after scoring the final goal in a 4-0 win against Everton on May 3rd, 1998 to clinch the League title.
The nearest turnstile to the Adams statue at Emirates Stadium is E.
Thierry Henry's statue depicts in his famous celebration after scoring his wonder goal against Tottenham Hotspur at Highbury in November 2002.
The statue of Henry is located in the south-east corner of Emirates Stadium, by the Spirit of Highbury mural. Henry is Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer with 226 goals. During his eight years at the Club between 1999 and 2007 he won two Premier League championships, two FA Cups, the Premier League ‘Golden Boot’ on four occasions and the PFA Player of the Year twice.
Fittingly, on May 7, 2006, he scored the last ever goal at Highbury.
The nearest turnstiles to the Henry statue at Emirates Stadium are P & N.
Peter Hill-Wood, who was joined by Arsène Wenger at the unveiling ceremony, said: “This year is very special in the history of Arsenal Football Club, when we are celebrating our 125th anniversary. This is not only a good moment to look forward to an exciting future, but also to look back and celebrate great figures in the history of our Club.
“Today is a celebration of three hugely influential figures in the history of Arsenal Football Club. Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are three Arsenal Legends who have all contributed so much to the successes of this football club.”
The Chairman concluded: “These legends are now proudly on display outside Emirates Stadium for all to see, and will provide a way for Arsenal supporters, and indeed any visitors to the stadium, to remember them and pay their own tributes to these three great men.”
Designed and created by MDM, the statues have been cast in bronze and are all life size and a half of the individuals. Having taken roughly 625 hours to create and weighing in at approximately 200kg each, the figures were painstakingly lifted into place on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.
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