Personify Arsenal Football Club. Go deep into its mind and fondest memories, and you'll be sure to come across the faces of Tony Adams and Thierry Henry at some point.
With over 700 league appearances between them, and over 200 goals for the Gunners, the duo spent the greatest years of their careers in North London, and will be forever cherished by fans past and present.
Leaving a legacy
Both players have had their services to Arsenal celebrated by the club. In response to their appreciation of the commitment and dedication that the silky French forward and the commanding English centre-back gave to the club, they have been forever remembered with statues outside the Emirates Stadium.
Adams’ commemorating his iconic celebration as he won Arsenal the league, finishing a classic Arsenal goal against Everton at Highbury. Henry’s also depicting a celebration adored by the Emirates faithful, as his outrageous knee-slide in front of the travelling Tottenham fans is now cast in bronze.
The point is, young players, particularly Adams who played as a youth product at Arsenal, want to be remembered on the pitch as a great.
The dedicated duo both captained the Gunners during their careers at the club, leaving their legacy in the process. Despite only playing at Arsenal with each other for a very short period in comparison to the duration of their time in North London, the pair will link up again as they stand in line to take over the coaching roles of the Arsenal U-18’s team.
Youth football of today
Believe it or not, making it in football is not about driving fancy cars, social media and flashing designer labels. It would be unfair to categorise young players in such a way, but it is fair to say that times have changed.
In fairness, culture has changed in and out of football, the sport has got overwhelmingly richer and clubs have planted investment into their youth facilities, making it even more of a delectable thought to make it as a young star.
This is not a bad thing, youth teams are re-starting to be used as they should be, as a conveyor belt in which young talents take a journey in a bid to fulfil their dream and play in the senior first-team of their respective club.
Young players are showered with rich facilities and high figures on their weekly wage slips, in which they sometimes become the victim of becoming detached from the true meaning of the sport - togetherness, loyalty and commitment, most would argue.
At Arsenal, the appointment of figures such as Tony Adams and Thierry Henry will hopefully act as a deterrent for the youngsters to not lose themselves in the 'media-circus', as it has become known.
A new era
Installing the old fashioned values of Adams and Henry, who in their time at Arsenal were programmed to play for the good of the club rather than the good of their bank account, will only help to strengthen these values.
When Adams made his first team debut at the age of 18, he was virtually unknown; no social media account, no wage, just a pair of football boots, a mature head and the most important thing to him, the Arsenal kit.
In his prime, as captain, Adams was earning around £2000 per week, to put this into the perspective of today and the luxury life of youth talent, 20-year-old Alex Iwobi has reportedly signed on the dotted line on his new contract, an expected £30,000 per week deal. This seems even more unfathomable considering he has only made 13 first-team appearances for the Gunners.
While the aim is not to belittle the outstanding talent of Alex Iwobi, who is a player firmly committed to the club, it goes to show the rapid rise in the financial side of the game and the league.
By working with the youth team, Henry and Adams will both be looking to fine-tune the youth players of the true meanings and honour to play for a club like Arsenal, just how they felt as developing talents at the club.
Exciting times ahead
The Arsenal U-18’s side has some outstanding talent on show, talent that Henry and Adams will be licking their lips at the chance to work with.
Both Henry and Adams were arguably the best in the Premier League in their positions at their prime; Henry scored 174 league goals for Arsenal, while Adams captained a title-winning team in three different decades at the club – quite remarkable.
The honours and reputation that the duo have at the club is monumental, and the youth players will be eager to impress in all areas of the pitch to gain the approval of the club legends. Whether it be Adam’s commitment and exceptional awareness in the centre of the defence, or Henry’s prolific goal-scoring habits, there is no doubt that the work of the two will in some way benefit the game and attitude of the U-18 team.
Adams’ iconic quote; “play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the one on the back”, will hopefully be resurrected in the budding talent in Arsenal’s ranks as the club pushes forward in the quest to bring more players into the first team.
It will certainly be interesting to see what impact they have on the side, and how their contrasting positions will combine to create an interesting tactical approach to games.