George Armstrong (footballer)
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|Full name||George Armstrong|
|Date of birth||9 August 1944|
|Place of birth||Hebburn, County Durham, England|
|Date of death||1 November 2000(aged 56)|
|Place of death||Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Initially he had been a forward but was soon switched to the wing. He made his debut not long after joining the club; while still only 17, he started against Blackpool on 24 February 1962 in a match that Arsenal won 1–0. Although he started out as understudy to Johnny MacLeod and Alan Skirton, by the 1963–64 season he had become a regular in the side, and in 1964–65 he missed only two matches.
Over his long career with the Gunners, Armstrong became one of Arsenal's most consistent players, who was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing; he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right. As he matured, he became one of the few players of the Billy Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright's successor Bertie Mee's Arsenal side, which ended the club's long trophy drought.
After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967–68 and 1968–69, Armstrong helped the Gunners win the 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970–71 League and FA Cup double; Armstrong was an ever-present in the Double-winning team that season, setting up a number of goals for his team-mates, which included teeing up Ray Kennedy's winning header against Tottenham Hotspur, in the match that won Arsenal the League title. He was also voted Arsenal's Player of the Year in 1970.
Armstrong remained with the club through the 1970s, as Arsenal failed to win any further trophies after their Double win; he played at least thirty matches in each season he was at the club during that decade. However, after falling out with Mee's successor, Terry Neill, he moved to Leicester City in the summer of 1977 for £15,000. He played only 14 League matches in his single season with the Foxes, and finished his career with Stockport County before retiring in 1979.
Having spent fifteen full seasons at Arsenal, most of them as an ever-present, Armstrong at the time held the club's all-time record for appearances – 621 competitive first-team appearances, including exactly 500 in the league; his record has since been overtaken only by David O'Leary and Tony Adams. He also scored 68 goals for Arsenal. Surprisingly for such a high-standing player, he was never capped for the full England side, despite plenty of youth and U23 caps; this was primarily because of England manager Sir Alf Ramsey's policy of not using wingers.
After retiring from playing, Armstrong moved into coaching, and worked for a variety of clubs, including Fulham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, QPR and Enderby Town (as manager), as well as FK Mjølner in Norway and was manager of the Kuwaiti national team between 1988 and 1989. In 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England and joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he remained at for the remainder of his life, despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent.
During his time at Arsenal Armstrong was responsible for bringing many young players through the Arsenal ranks, including Steve Morrow, Ray Parlour and Paul Dickov. On 31 October 2000, Armstrong collapsed after an unexpected brain haemorrhage whilst at a club training session; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.
Armstrong had a pitch named after him at the Arsenal training ground, in London Colney.
- Obituary in The Guardian
- Photo and biography at sporting-heroes.net
- George Armstrong tribute on Arsenal-land