It was with great sadness that the club learned of the death of former manager and captain, Terry Neill, aged 80.
Terry was associated with the club for over 20 years, firstly as a player having joined us as a 17-year-old from Bangor City in his native Northern Ireland in December 1959.
The midfielder’s combination of tenacity, vision and natural leadership soon forced him into first-team reckoning, making his debut against Sheffield Wednesday on December 23, 1960. Just two years later, aged 20, he was appointed Arsenal’s youngest ever captain by new boss Billy Wright.
Terry was a regular performer throughout the decade under Wright and then Bertie Mee, making 275 first-team appearances in total for the club, scoring 10 goals, before being transferred to Hull City in the summer of 1970, where he took on a player-manager role. His illustrious playing career also featured 59 caps for Northern Ireland, whom he also captained and player-managed, as well as a stint as PFA Chairman in 1967.
After impressing at Hull City, Terry was appointed manager of Tottenham Hotspur in September 1974 and in June 1976 made the short trip back to Highbury to take over the manager role vacated by Bertie Mee – he was still only 34 years of age.
He pulled off a masterstroke by bringing in former team-mate and supreme tactician Don Howe to work alongside him and the Gunners became one of the most effective cup teams in the country. They reached three successive FA Cup finals from 1978, famously winning the ‘five-minute final’ with a 3-2 win over Manchester United in 1979. His team also reached the 1980 European Cup Winners Cup final, agonisingly losing to Valencia on penalties. A seven-season spell as manager – featuring four top six finishes – came to an end in December 1983.
Despite not working in football management again, Terry remained a regular presence at Highbury then Emirates Stadium, including being a popular TV pundit and columnist in numerous publications. His larger-than-life character and willingness to talk football with everyone always made him a well-liked figure at the club on matchdays.
Terry Neill’s status as both club captain and manager made him a major influence on 20th-century Arsenal. His fantastic contribution – and indeed his character – will always be appreciated by everyone associated with the club.
Our thoughts are with Terry’s family and close friends at this difficult time.
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