Five of the Best ... Tony Adams Goals for Arsenal

Tony Adams scoring against Spurs in the 1993 FA Cup semi final

1. Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup semi-final, 4 April 1993

It was two years since a Spurs team - inspired by Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne - beat Arsenal 3-1 and went on to lift the FA Cup, beating Nottingham Forest in the final. The North London rivals were once more drawn together, and again the match would be held at Wembley. Lineker and Gascoigne had moved on, as had manager Terry Venables - leaving Arsenal favourites to take revenge.

Adams himself had played a significant role in getting the Gunners to this stage, scoring a memorable headed goal against Ipswich in the quarter-final, despite sporting 29 stitches in a head wound. The Arsenal captain later revealed this was a result of a fall down a flight of stairs at Ra Ra’s nightclub in Islington; it would be another three years before he publicly admitted his struggles with alcoholism. Adams missed two league games as a result of his head injury, but returned in time for the derby.

A fairly ordinary match was scoreless until the 79th minute, when Ray Parlour was fouled on the edge of the Tottenham area. In a near replica to the goal against Ipswich in the previous round, Paul Merson floated the free kick to the far post, and Adams arrived late to direct a firm downward header into the net. Despite Lee Dixon being sent off shortly after, Arsenal held on. They went on to beat Sheffield Wednesday after a replay to clinch the cup double.

2. Everton, Premier League, 3 May 1998

Arsenal went into this match against Everton needing three points to clinch the Premier League title. It was supposed to be a tough game, with Everton in relegation trouble and desperate for points. However by half-time, Arsenal were 2-0 up and playing like champions. The Everton manager, Howard Kendall - outraged at his side’s ineptitude - even made three substitutions at half-time but it remained one way traffic and Marc Overmars made it 3-0 before the hour mark with his second goal of the game.

The fourth has become an iconic Arsenal goal - often used to illustrate the transformation in Arsenal’s playing style between the George Graham and Arsene Wenger eras. Though possibly harsh - at least on early George Graham Arsenal sides who often played with flair and scored plenty of goals - there was no doubt that the sight of Adams running on to a beautifully chipped pass from Steve Bould (Steve Bould!) and firing a controlled left-footed half-volley past Thomas Myhre perfectly encapsulated the creative freedom Wenger gave his players.

The goal also captured the transformation in Adams’ own approach to football - and to life in general. Reflecting on the goal in his autobiography, the Arsenal captain said “As the ball hit the net I just thought 'Wow'. It was a beautiful moment and as I closed my eyes to savour it, I simply felt a great calm and peace.” Adams recalls that after the game, with his team-mates spraying beer and drinking champagne ‘'I just went and sat in Pat Rice's office and had a cup of tea and a Mars bar.”

3. Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, 24 November 1996

Arsene Wenger's first North London derby came early in his Arsenal career - in only his sixth match in charge. With a couple of minutes to go, and the score level at 1-1, a quick throw into the area found Dennis Bergkamp, who beautifully flicked the ball up into the air for the oncoming Tony Adams. The captain unleashed a technically perfect left-foot volley into the far corner.

Wenger had yet to really impose his style on this team, but here perhaps was the evidence that he had the players with the ability to play his way.

Just weeks before, in the aftermath of Euro 96, Adams had publicly admitted he was an alcoholic, and was in the very early stages of feeling the twin benefits of Wenger’s philosophy and cleaner living. In his autobiography he described how he scored “on one of the ventures upfield I now felt I had been given license to attempt, not only by Arsene Wenger but also because I was feeling adventurous as a person and player.”

Victory was sealed in the dying seconds of the match with another special goal, Bergkamp silkily controlling Wright’s cross and slotting home to make it 3-1.

Related article: Five of the best Premier League goals against Spurs

4. Torino, European Cup Winners Cup, 15 March 1994

Winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1994 was up there with George Graham’s greatest achievements as Arsenal manager. Under the Scot’s leadership, the Gunners had been transformed from a consistent side who won two championships, to a highly successful cup team, and in 1993 they became the first side to win the League Cup and FA Cup in the same season.

Underdogs Arsenal famously beat Parma 1-0 in the Cup Winners Cup Final in 1994, but their success was in part thanks to equally gritty 1-0 wins earlier in the competition against Torino and Paris Saint-Germain.

Arsenal had battled their way to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the quarter final in Turin, with Adams and Steve Bould heroic in defence. The home leg was still scoreless with 66 minutes gone, when Paul Davis floated a free-kick into the penalty area. It should have been the goalkeeper’s ball, but Giovanni Galli stayed on his line and Adams buried a simple header from six yards.

5. Manchester United, First Division, 2 April 1989

Adams scored at both ends in this 1-1 draw, at a soaking wet and muddy Old Trafford. It was the equalising own goal that made the headlines - the Daily Mirror choosing to illustrate Adams with donkey ears the following day. Outwardly, the Arsenal captain appeared to use the tabloid criticism to drive him to greater efforts in pursuit of the league title, however he later admitted he found it hard to deal with the abuse.
he goal he scored at the right end was a classic of its kind; a near-post corner delivered by Brian Marwood was flicked on (on this occasion inadvertently by ex-Gunner Viv Anderson) and Adams met it with a brave diving header.

Arsenal would win their next four matches without conceding a goal, before a defeat to Derby County and a draw against Wimbledon set up the season’s famous Anfield finale.

Follow me on Twitter @GoonerNostalgic or like my page on Facebook