All Guns Blazing: Fans back Arsenal legend to win his battle

Pat Rice waves to the fans

Pat Rice waves to the fans - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Like many other Arsenal fans, I would like to extend my best wishes to Pat Rice and his family at this difficult time.

As has been widely reported, he has recently undergone hospital treatment for cancer.

An Arsenal man through and through, Pat has been a part of Arsenal in different ways for Gooners of all ages.

For the older mob he was a fearless right-back whose tough tackling would send shivers down the spines of today’s footballers.

For those more familiar with the modern-day Arsenal, Pat is part of the team which brought unparalleled success to the streets of Islington.

Some would like us to believe that during his time as Arsene Wenger’s number two he did little more than put out and pick up the cones.

I’m not familiar with the goings-on at London Colney, but to suggest Pat’s impact on the team and the club was that minimal is hugely disrespectful.

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This is a man who has red and white coursing through his veins. An Arsenal man bred on the streets of Highbury.

I saw Pat recently at an event at the Emirates celebrating the club’s 100 years in the borough.

Despite being rather shy in front of the crowd, he spoke with huge pride and passion about the club and the borough.

He spoke about how he grew up just around the corner from Highbury and as a youngster used to sneak in to watch matches, how he found his way to Arsenal after being picked to play for schools, the borough and then finally the club.

That is why his part in the success during the Wenger era is hugely significant. Let’s not forget the club was as close to turmoil as it was possible to be.

We had lost two managers in the space of little more than a year and then an unheralded Frenchman arrived.

I like to think that Pat’s presence and his knowledge of the club and “the Arsenal way” helped stitch things together, placate the fans and buy a bit of time for Monsieur Wenger.

Since then, he has become a sounding board for Arsene while also helping to hammer home to the players what it means to play for the club.

Again, I pass my best wishes on to Pat but I have a feeling that – much like his performances on the pitch – this is one fight he is not willing to lose and will fight with every drop of sweat to win.

Follow me @Alex_Wellman