Arsenal are a club with one of the proudest heritages in English football. After Manchester United and Liverpool, the Gunners are the most successful team in the nation’s history. Thousands of players have worn their colours and thousands more will do in the future.
But the loyalty of a select few has seen them become the club’s most turned-out players. In this article, we outline the ten players with the most Arsenal appearances.
Top 10 Arsenal Appearance List
10. Peter Simpson – 477 Appearances, 1965-1978
League: 370, FA Cup: 53, League Cup: 33, Europe: 21, Other: 0
Born in 1945, Peter Simpson began his Arsenal career on the pitch, but in a different capacity than you might initially expect. He signed as a groundsman initially, before starting an apprenticeship shortly after when staff noticed his potential. He made his debut in 1964 against Chelsea; it was the first of 370 league appearances and 477 appearances in total.
A reliable centre-half, Simpson became an ever-present in the Arsenal side from 1966, winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970 and a League and Cup double in 1971. He left Arsenal in 1978 and went to play a twilight season in America before hanging up his boots.
9. John Radford – 481 Appearances, 1964-1976
League: 379, FA Cup: 44, League Cup: 34, Europe: 24, Other: 0
In his 481 appearances for the club, John Radford scored a magnificent 149 goals. This figure is enough to see him reach 4th place in Arsenal’s all-time top scorers list.
A forward who could be deployed through the centre or on the right, Radford was an Arsenal academy graduate. He made his senior debut in 1964, but it would be a few more years until there was any silverware to speak of. His three trophies with Arsenal came in the space of a year. Like Peter Simpson, he was part of the team that won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970 and the famous double in 1971. That would be the last time Arsenal won the league for another 18 years.
8. Peter Storey – 501 Appearances, 1965-1977
League: 391, FA Cup: 51, League Cup: 37, Europe: 22, Other: 0
Accompanying Simpson and Radford in that now-iconic Arsenal team of the late 60s and early 70s was one Peter Storey. Storey was the first player to break the 500 matches barrier for Arsenal. His first appearance came in 1965 and his last in 1977.
A tough-tackling holding midfielder, Storey also appeared 19 times for England. He spent the vast majority of his career with Arsenal, coming through the academy there. Midway through the 1976-77 season, he made the short journey across London to Fulham where he would see out the rest of his playing days in the second-tier.
7. Pat Rice – 528 Appearances, 1964-1980
League: 391, FA Cup: 67, League Cup: 36, Europe: 27, Other: 1
Though six men have made more Arsenal appearances than him, there is a case to be made that Pat Rice is the most influential figure in the history of the club. A right back in his playing days, Rice won four trophies with the Gunners, including the FA Cup in 1979, the final of which is considered one of the greatest ever.
After a short stint with Watford, Rice retired from the pitch in 1984. He immediately returned to Arsenal as a youth coach in 1984, and he remained at the club until 2012, becoming assistant manager to Arsene Wenger in 1996. In his time at Arsenal, he saw some of the club’s finest days.
6. David Seaman – 564 Appearances, 1990-2003
League: 405, FA Cup: 48, League Cup: 38, Europe: 69, Other: 4
The only goalkeeper on the list, David Seaman played 564 times for Arsenal between the sticks. Though he spent most of his career with the club, Arsenal was the fifth of six stops on his career journey. Seaman came through the Leeds United academy before joining Peterborough United, Birmingham City and QPR respectively. George Graham signed him in 1990, and he would go on to win 12 trophies with the club.
Seaman also won 75 caps for England and is widely considered one of the best shot-stoppers of his generation.
5. Nigel Winterburn – 584 Appearances, 1987-2000
League: 440, FA Cup: 47, League Cup: 49, Europe: 43, Other: 5
In a back four with Steve Bould, Lee Dixon and Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn was part of one of the most impressive defences in English top-flight history. Winterburn played on the left of that defence. Though he was good going forward, he was a defence-first sort of player and it was this conservative approach which made Arsenal so reliable during his time at Highbury.
Winterburn won ten trophies with Arsenal, including a long-awaited league title in 1989. Another followed two years later in 1991. He was successful in the newly-formed Premier League too, lifting the trophy alongside the FA Cup in 1998.
4. Lee Dixon – 619 Appearances, 1988-2002
League: 458, FA Cup: 54, League Cup: 45, Europe: 57, Other: 5
Another member of that superb defence, Dixon played on the opposite side of the defence to Winterburn, at right-back. He had played for four clubs before arriving at Highbury in 1988. A tactically disciplined and technically gifted footballer, he is fondly remembered at the club.
He won two First Division and two Premier League titles, one of only a handful of players to do so. He also collected 22 caps for England, though he missed out on the World Cup in 1990 and the European Championship on home soil in 1996.
3. George Armstrong – 621 Appearances, 1961-1977
League: 500, FA Cup: 60, League Cup: 35, Europe: 26, Other: 0
Like Pat Rice, George Armstrong spent long periods with Arsenal as both a player and a coach. He had retired in 1981, four years after turning out for Arsenal for the last time. Armstrong immediately began a managerial career, but it fizzled. He then returned to Highbury where he would stay on as reserve team coach for a decade before his untimely death in 2000.
In his playing days, Armstrong had been a nippy winger. He played exactly 500 times for Arsenal in the league and 621 times overall. He was one of the first names on the team sheet during that brief golden period from 1969-1971. After his sad passing, Arsenal renamed one of their training pitches in his honour.
2. Tony Adams – 669 Appearances, 1983-2002
League: 504, FA Cup: 54, League Cup: 59, Europe: 48, Other: 0
Another cog in the machine that was Arsenal’s famous 80s-90s back four, Tony Adams’ career with the club was as long as it is storied. He spent all 19 years of his career at Highbury, playing 669 times in total. It’s no surprise that a statue in the centre-back’s image sits outside the Emirates Stadium.
Adams won bags of trophies with Arsenal. He straddled two of their greatest eras in the 20th century. The first came under the stewardship of George Graham when they won five trophies in six years, including two league titles and the Cup Winners’ Cup. The second, a successful spell under Arsene Wenger. Adams also amassed 66 England caps.
1. David O’Leary – 722 Appearances. 1975-1993
League: 558, FA Cup: 70, League Cup: 70, Europe: 21, Other: 0
Some way out in front, with 52 more Arsenal appearances than his closest competitor is David O’Leary. The Irishman played 19 seasons for the club, his last coming in 1992-93. It was symbolic that this 92-93 was the first Premier League season. As one era ended, another began.
O’Leary won seven trophies in his time with the club. There are more decorated players in Arsenal’s history but none who can rival the centre-back for loyalty. Upon leaving Arsenal, O’Leary joined Leeds United where he enjoyed two seasons as a bit-part player before hanging up his boots. He retired as one of the most prominent figures in Arsenal history.