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Arsenal old boys, 1986/87 - present

Charlie Nicholas
David O'Leary
Colin Pates
David Platt
Niall Quinn
Isaiah Rankin

Charlie Nicholas (1983/84-1987/88)

Charlie played in Arsenal's first three league games of 1987/88, but those were to be his last in an Arsenal shirt before a 400,000 transfer to Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen in January 1988. He scored 37 goals in 78 league appearances during his two seasons at Pittodrie but could not prevent Glasgow Rangers from winning the Scottish Premier League Championship on both occasions. Charlie transferred to Glasgow Celtic in the summer of 1990, hoping that he could win his first League Championship since 1981/82, the first of two successive titles that he won in his first spell at the club. He never managed to win the League Championship in 5 seasons at Parkhead, but netted 37 times in 114 league appearances and scored against Arsenal in Paul Davis' testimonial match, when his Celtic side came to Highbury and drew 2-2 in the summer of 1991. Charlie's last spell as a professional came with Scottish Second Division side Clyde, where he scored 5 goals in 31 league appearances during 1995/96, before calling an end to his playing days. He is now a highly-successful football analyst for Sky Sports, as are a number of former Arsenal greats such as Brian Marwood, Kenny Sansom and Alan Smith.

David O'Leary (1975/76-1992/93)

After signing for Arsenal on his fifteenth birthday in May 1973, David O'Leary served Arsenal for over 20 years before finally departing for Leeds United in the summer of 1993 on a free transfer. He appeared for Arsenal on 558 occasions in the league and ended his time with the club in style by making his last appearance in the FA Cup final replay victory over Sheffield Wednesday in May 1993. David made 10 league appearances for Leeds United during 1993/94, with the club finishing in fifth place, a point behind Arsenal in fourth. He was unable to make a single league appearance during both 1994/95 and 1995/96 due to a serious Achilles injury and was forced to retire in October 1995, having failed to recover from the injury. He made his decision known publicly in the build-up to Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Leeds at Elland Road in October 1995, but he stayed on at Elland Road as a defensive coach. In September 1996, David became George Graham's assistant at Leeds United and the pair transformed the fortunes of the side that had spent the past four years underachieving for a club of its stature. George Graham, who had returned to management having served a one-year ban for accepting illegal transfer payments whilst manager of Arsenal, was the ideal master to learn the managerial trade from, with David destined to take over at Elland Road after his departure. Having taken Leeds to eleventh (1996/97) and fifth (1997/98) place in the league, George Graham left to become the manager of Tottenham Hotspur in October 1998 and handed the reigns over to David on a temporary basis. David was in fact second on the Leeds United wanted list behind Leicester City boss Martin O'Neill but since finally taking over permanently in October 1998, it has been clear to see that he has the qualities to become a great manager. He has steered Leeds United towards fourth place in the league (1998/99), a UEFA Cup semi-final (1999/00), third place in the league (1999/00), fourth place in the league (2000/01) and a European Cup semi- final (2000/01).

Colin Pates (1989/90-1992/93)

Colin Pates left Arsenal for Second Division Brighton & Hove Albion on a free transfer in the summer of 1993. He made 50 league appearances for 'The Seagulls' between 1993/94 and 1994/95 before being forced into retirement due to a serious knee injury he sustained. Colin did not leave the playing side of football permanently though and became the player/manager of Beazer Homes League Premier Division side Crawley Town, where he remained in charge until February 1996. Colin is now the Football Coach at Whitgift School in South Croydon, well known throughout England for its excellent facilities and sporting achievements.


During the summer of 1998, when Arsenal were fresh from winning the double, David Platt announced his retirement from the game, 3 days short of his 32nd birthday. He had served Arsenal for 3 seasons after a 4,750,000 move from the Italian Serie A side, Sampdoria and in December 1998, he took up the opportunity to rejoin the Italian club as their 'Overall Supervisor'. During the seven weeks that he held the position, he was put under immense pressure to resign, as he had not completed the Italian coaching badges, which are required of all Serie A managers. David was managing the club from the stands because he did not have the recommended qualifications to hold a place in the dugout and in February 1999, after just 6 matches in charge, he resigned from his role. Sampdoria were relegated to Serie B that season so the pressure that Platt was constantly being put under throughout his stay could not have been helpful towards the teams cause. In the summer of 1999, he was appointed manager of Nottingham Forest and registered himself as a player at the First Division club, recently relegated from the Premiership. During 1999/00, still finding his managerial feet, David only managed to guide Nottingham Forest to fourteenth place, as well as making 6 league appearances throughout the campaign. He made a further 2 league appearances during 2000/01, and having missed out on the play-offs zone by six points, the club is struggling to live up to its glory days of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In the summer of 2001, David left the City Ground to join the England set-up, where he took over the reigns from Howard Wilkinson as the England Under-21 manager.

Niall Quinn (1985/86-1989/90)

Niall Quinn left Arsenal for Manchester City during March 1990 in a 800,000 deal having failed to maintain a place in the Arsenal first-team on a regular basis throughout the 1989/90 campaign. It was to be the start of a Manchester City career that lasted for six and-a-quarter seasons, 203 league games and 66 league goals. In November 1993, he sustained injuries to the knee ligaments that kept him out of the game for nine months and which also out ruled him out of USA '94 with the Republic of Ireland. He nethertheless made a full recovery for the beginning of the 1994/95 season and stayed at Maine Road until the summer of 1996, when the club had been relegated to the First Division. In the summer of 1995, it was reported he had joined the Portugese side, Sporting Lisbon for 1,800,000 on a two-year contract with the option of a further year. The move was not completed and the striker stayed at Maine Road during the relegation season of 1995/96, which ended with a 2-2 home draw against FA Cup finalists Liverpool. He joined newly promoted Premiership side Sunderland for 1,300,000 where a serious knee injury restricted him to make just 12 league appearances (2 goals) during 1996/97, his second successive relegation season. The 1997/98 season ended with the final of the First Division play-offs, in which Sunderland were defeated by Charlton Athletic on penalties, but Niall had recovered from his injuries to score 14 times in 35 league appearances throughout the campaign. In 1998/99, he helped to steer Sunderland towards the Division One Championship during a record-breaking season where the club earned 105 points from 46 league games. Niall scored 18 goals in 39 league games throughout the campaign and on his return to the Premiership, he netted 14 times in 37 league games to help Sunderland finish in seventh position. Sunderland maintained their high Premiership standards during 2000/01 by finishing in seventh place for the second successive season, but missed out on a European place to Chelsea on the final day of the season following a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, Everton. On a personal note, Niall netted 7 times in 34 league games and will be competing with new French International signing, Lilian Laslandes for a first-team place during the 2001/02 campaign.


In the 1998/99 pre-season, Isaiah Rankin joined Bradford City of Division One in a 1,300,000 deal and 'The Bantams' won promotion to the Premiership in his first season at Valley Parade. Although he was the victim of a successful strike-partnership, built up between Robbie Blake and Lee Mills, he still managed to feature 27 times in the league throughout the season and scored 4 goals. He made a further 9 league appearances during 1999/00 but failed to score for a Bradford side that survived relegation on the final day of the season. Isaiah had also spent 13 games on loan with First Division Birmingham City during 1999/00, where he scored 4 league goals. At the beginning of 2000/01, Isaiah had a loan spell with First Division Bolton Wanderers, scoring 2 goals in 16 games, but the move never resulted in a permanent transfer. He returned to Valley Parade, where he only made one further league appearance, before moving to Barnsley of Division One for 350,000 in January 2001. Having scored 1 goal in 9 league games for 'The Tykes' during 2000/01, Isaiah will be hoping to have a more settled season during 2001/02.

© Richard Tufft & ArseWeb 2001

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