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Don Howe, 1935-2015

Don Howe's side beat Liverpool 3-1

It is with great sadness that the club has learned of the death of Don Howe.

Don’s immense influence at Arsenal Football Club spanned five decades.

An England international full back, he joined Arsenal from West Bromwich Albion for £42,000 in April 1964 and played 74 times for the Gunners, scoring once before a broken leg ended his playing career in March 1966.

He joined the coaching staff the following year as chief coach before becoming Bertie Mee’s assistant manager in March 1969. Then followed two glorious seasons when Don forged his reputation as one of the game’s great coaches. The Gunners won their first-ever European trophy, defeating Anderlect in in the 1970 Fairs Cup final and followed that with a magnificent league and cup ‘double’ the next season.

A move to become manager of West Brom immediately followed the ‘double’ success, but he returned to Highbury as Terry Neill’s chief coach in the summer of 1977, when he combined his role with the same position for England. Coaching the team to three successive FA Cup finals - winning in 1979 - and the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1980, Don was made caretaker manager in late 1983, following Neill’s departure.

Appointed permanent Arsenal manager in April 1984, he spent two years at the helm and was instrumental in the development of numerous stars of the future, giving David Rocastle, Martin Keown, Michael Thomas, Niall Quinn and Martin Hayes their debuts - among many others.

After working for many clubs, most notably as assistant manager at Wimbledon when they won the 1988 FA Cup, and continuing to work for England, including as Terry Venables assistant in Euro 96, he returned to Arsenal as head youth-team coach in the summer of 1997.

Don then enjoyed a very successful six seasons developing the talents of Arsenal’s young players, leading the team to FA Youth Cup wins in 2000 and 2001, before retiring at the end of the 2002/03 season.

Respected across the world as an authority on the game, Don was loved by the thousands of footballers and coaches who had benefited from his knowledge on the training pitches.

Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick said: “We were aware Don had been enduring a long battle with illness, but it was still a shock to learn the news about someone who was loved by so many people at the club, and who had such a remarkable influence as a player, coach and manager here.

“Don possessed a marvellous ability to get the very best out of players with his coaching techniques and provide them with the perfect preparation for matches. He was the very best at what he did - and he did it with us, at Arsenal, for decade after decade.

“He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and his name will live on in the history books as one of the most influential footballing figures in the history of the club.”

Don will be remembered as a wonderful, warm and generous character who forged many lasting friendships at the club. The thoughts of everyone at Arsenal Football Club are with his family.