Tributes flood in as Arsenal legend Pat Rice battles cancer
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Tributes have flooded into Arsenal legend and former Highbury resident Pat Rice in support of his battle with cancer.
The 64-year-old, who spent 44 years with the Gunners as player, coach and assistant manager, was admitted to hospital this week.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager, said: “Not only do we love him, we are very grateful for everything he has done here – this is very sad news.
“I am in touch with him and I trust his legendary strength to get over it.
“I am confident he has the fighting spirit as he always had to get over that and will come out of it in a successful way.”
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Mr Rice made almost 400 appearances for Arsenal, skippered them to three successive FA cup finals – including the victory over Manchester United in 1979 – and helped guide the club to two further double triumphs and an unbeaten Premier League title as assistant boss.
Since the news of his illness broke, a special web page and Twitter hashtag has been set up by the club for people to post messages of encouragement to the former defender.
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Former player Gilberto Silva messaged: “Best wishes to Pat Rice and family. God bless you and keep you strong.”
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted: “Thinking of Pat and his family. I know how strong he is.”
Another former star of the club – Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas – added: “We are all behind you Pat.”