In this piece as the title suggests we are going to be looking at those players, legends even, who made over 300 appearances for the club in all competitions, a milestone that most likely won’t be reached anytime soon by any of the current squad maybe with the exception of Theo Walcott maybe. If he gets the 300+ appearances he needs, he will be in the company of Arsenal royalty with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Merson, Liam Brady, Patrick Viera, David Seamen to name a few, however for this first article on the 300+ club it’s three of my personal favorites that we will be focusing on, namely Martin Keown, Ray Parlour and Alan Smith.
With 449 appearances Martin Keown is right up there with the very best of them. His career with Arsenal started in the 80s making his debut in 1985, it was the partnership of Steve Bould and Tony Adams though who would keep him out of the team in the late 80s before being sold on to Aston Villa and onto Everton. However, he returned to Arsenal in ’93 and would play an important role at the club for almost a decade. When anyone thinks of Martin Keown, one memory automatically brings them back to that famous, if not completely blown out of proportion incident that happened at Old Trafford involving Ruud Van Nistelrooy. After Van Nistelrooy had missed a penalty in injury time Keown taunted him, followed by his running jumping jack that made contact with Van Nistelrooy after the final whistle. During his time at Arsenal, he won 3 Premier League Titles, 3 FA Cups, and 3 Community Shields. Martin can be seen now regularly as a pundit on Match of the Day and Football Focus. Indeed the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Keown household with Martin’s son Niall following in his father’s footsteps as a defender with Partick Thistle. Martin is also known for his charity work and is Patron/Ambassador for various charitable organizations that include The Moneypot, Willow Foundation and the Nuffield Orthopedic Centre Charity.
It’s only Ray Parlour aka as the Romford Pele. After spending 13 seasons at Arsenal and gaining cult status among the fans, Parlour left a lasting impression notching up 467 appearances playing alongside a midfield that had some of the best the Premier League has ever seen. While the majority of Arsenal fans will point to that famous goal he scored against Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final as his greatest moment in an Arsenal jersey, Parlor himself described the moment as “probably the greatest moment of my life”. For what it’s worth, Arsenal fans favorite Parlour’s moment came in a league game against Newcastle on the 9th of December 2000 in what was a 5-0 win for the Gunners, with Parlor scoring a memorable goal running from deep to get on the end of a delightful chip from Pires. Parlour’s last season with Arsenal came in 2003-04 campaign and with Cesc Fabregas waiting in the wings Parlour joined Middlesbrough. His time at Arsenal saw him collect 3 Premier League medals as well as 4 FA Cups and 3 Community Shields. Parlour is still involved with Arsenal as an ambassador for the club. Outside of Arsenal he can be heard on TalkSport and followed on his Twitter page @RealRomfordPele.
Hailing from Hollywood, no not California but rather Worcestershire in the West Midlands, Alan Smith played 347 times in an Arsenal shirt joining them in the 1987-88 at the age of 25, scoring 115 goals in 8 seasons at the club. Undoubtedly his two finest moments at the club are the 1989 game against Liverpool with his and Michael Thomas’s goal giving Arsenal the title that year, the other being that in the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final against a Parma team that included Gianfranco Zola and Faustino Asprilla (remember him Newcastle fans) with Smith scoring the only goal of that game in the Parken Stadium. Smith retired from football at the end of the 1994-95 season taking 5 major honors with him. Alan Smith is currently working for Sky Sports doing commentary/punditry.
Coming up later in the 300+ club we will be looking at “Safe Hands” with Wilson, Seaman, and Jennings, followed by “Irish at Arsenal” with Brady, Stapleton and O’Leary and the “The French Connection” Henry, Viera and Piers. Until then you can keep up to date with all news Arsenal at Arsenalinsider.com by following @ArsenalInsider and feel free to follow me at @michael_mac_39