Who Is George Graham? Profile Of Legendary Arsenal Player And Manager

Who Is George Graham? Profile Of Legendary Arsenal Player And Manager

The rich tapestry of Arsenal history is filled with titanic figures and beloved club icons – however, few are quite as important as George Graham.

In the annal of Arsenal legends, Graham is a unique individual – he played a major role in not just one, but two of Arsenal’s most successful periods.

Graham, alongside Herbert Chapman and Arsene Wenger, is one of the most legendary and decorated Gunners head coaches of all time – let’s see how his footballing journey began.

Before Arsenal

Borning Bargeddie, Scotland, Graham’s footballing journey began at Aston Villa – he joined the Villans’ youth setup in 1959, signing his first professional deal in 1961.

He moved to Chelsea in 1964, where he began to find success, as he scored 35 goals in 72 games. Two years after this, Graham was snapped up by Arsenal.

Graham’s time with the Gunners as a player

Graham’s time at Arsenal as an active player was not an instant success – it would take the Gunners four years since him joining the club before they would get their hands on major silverware.

They reached the League Cup finals in 1968 and 1969, but were beaten by Leeds United and Swindon Town, respectively. In the 1970/71 season, however, their fortunes would change.

In that campaign, the Gunners completed an historic double, as they went on to win both the First Division and the FA Cup, defeating Liverpool in the final.

Graham occupied several different positions during his time in North London – he played as a striker, a central midfielder and as an inside forward. In total, Graham scored 60 goals in 227 appearances for the Gunners.

Graham as Arsenal manager

After cutting his teeth as a head coach at Millwall, Graham made his return to Highbury in 1986 as Arsenal’s new manager, after the resignation of Don Howe.

At the time, Arsenal were not one of the top clubs in England – instead, this honour largely went to Liverpool and Everton, who had become dominant forces during the 1980s.

Nevertheless, Arsenal finished fourth during Graham’s first season as head coach – not only this, they also the League Cup at the end of the season.

In the 1988/89 season, Graham successful brought Arsenal back to the pinnacle of English football, as the Gunners won the First Division on the final day of the season.

Following this, Graham went on to win the 1990/91 First Division, as well as the FA Cup and the League Cup in the 1992/93 campaign. He left the club under controversial circumstances in 1995, after a Premier League enquiry deemed he had accepted an illegal payment from a football agent.

Despite Graham’s success with Arsenal, he was never able to make headways into European competitions, due to the ban imposed on English clubs following the 1985 Heysel disaster.

After Arsenal

Following his time at Arsenal, after serving his ban from the FA, Graham went on to manage Leeds United in 1996. He left the club in 1998 as he made the shocking to the Gunners’ greatest rivals – Tottenham.

He spent three years at Spurs, winning the League Cup along the way, before being unceremoniously sacked in 2001. Graham never officially announced his retirement, but this was his last managerial role in football.

Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson

I have worked for NationalWorld since August 2021 - before then, I was a freelance journalist, writing for numerous publications. From 2023, I have been a part of the ever-growing NationalWorld Sports Network.