Kenny Sansom

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Kenny Sansom
Kenny Sansom April 2011 TB.jpg
Personal information
Full name Kenneth Graham Sansom
Date of birth (1958-09-26) 26 September 1958 (age 57)
Place of birth Camberwell, London, England
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Left back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1980 Crystal Palace 172 (3)
1980–1988 Arsenal 314 (6)
1988–1989 Newcastle United 20 (0)
1989–1991 Queens Park Rangers 64 (0)
1991–1993 Coventry City 51 (0)
1993 Everton 6 (1)
1993 Brentford 8 (0)
1994 Watford 1 (0)
Total 636 (10)
National team
1978–1980 England U21 8 (0)
1979–1988 England 86 (1)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Kenneth Graham Sansom (born 26 September 1958) is an English former footballer. Until overtaken by Ashley Cole in February 2011, he held the record for the number of caps for an England national team full back, having appeared 86 times for his country between 1979 and 1988.[1]

Crystal Palace[edit]

Sansom started out playing in the youth team at Crystal Palace, whom he joined while still at school, and made his first team debut at the age of just 16. In 1977 he captained the Palace juniors team to FA Youth Cup success while also skippering the England youth team at the same level, collecting Palace's "Player of the Year" award in his first season.

Quick, calm, strong in the tackle and an excellent crosser of the ball, Sansom missed just one league game in a consecutive run of 156 games, starting back in 1976, when Palace were in the Third Division. In the 1978-79 season Crystal Palace's won the Second Division championship with Sansom integral to the young team. They were quickly labelled as the "Team Of The '80s".[2] and briefly topped the old First Division at the start of the 1979-80 season although they were ultimately to finish twelfth .

On 23 May 1979, Sansom made his debut for the full England team, in a goalless draw against Wales.[3]

Arsenal and England[edit]

Arsenal put in a bid of £1million for Sansom in the summer of 1980, with striker Clive Allen going in exchange; this was an unusual move, as Allen was an equally prized young player and had only joined Arsenal weeks earlier, and had yet to play a competitive match for the club. Palace accepted the bid and Sansom left for Highbury. The same summer he had starred for England in the 1980 European Championships in Italy, though England did not make progress.

Sansom made his Arsenal debut against West Bromwich Albion on 16 August 1980 and was an ever present for that season and the next, and a near-constant figure at left back for Arsenal for eight years in total. He was voted Arsenal's Player of the Year in 1981, but it took him seven years to win a trophy, with the Gunners largely underachieving through the early and mid-1980s.

Therefore, it was for his England career for which Sansom gained plaudits and recognition. He was rarely out of the team and played in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, in which England exited in the second group phase. He was still the first-choice left back for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, playing in all of the matches up to and including the quarter final defeat against Argentina, in which game he was one of the England players left behind by Diego Maradona as he burst from inside his own half to score his second goal.

Sansom missed only a handful of England matches between 1980 and 1988; his record of 37 consecutive appearances between May 1984 and April 1987 has been only been bettered by Billy Wright and Ron Flowers. He was occasionally rested in friendly matches so that coaches Ron Greenwood and then Bobby Robson could check on potential replacements (Derek Statham, Alan Kennedy, Nick Pickering) in the event of Sansom's suffering from either serious injury or chronic loss of form. Neither happened, but the first genuine sign of competition came in 1987, when the Nottingham Forest left back and captain Stuart Pearce was given his England debut against Brazil and played well, setting up England's goal for Gary Lineker. However Sansom was still the regular left-back during England's 1988 European Championships qualifying campaign.

Sansom finally won some domestic silverware in 1987, captaining Arsenal to a League Cup final victory over Liverpool at Wembley; Arsenal came from a goal down to win 2-1, and Sansom had started the move which had led to Arsenal's late winner, scored by Charlie Nicholas.

The following season, Sansom's relationship with his Arsenal manager George Graham soured and he was replaced as captain by fledgling defender Tony Adams, who was just 21. Sansom did, however, keep his place in the side; although Graham had just signed a long-term replacement in Nigel Winterburn, he was played at right-back rather than left for his first season at the club. Arsenal reached the League Cup final again in 1987-88, only to lose 3-2 to Luton Town in a dramatic and exciting match.

Euro 88[edit]

That summer, Sansom was Robson's first choice left back for the European Championships, but England were a disaster, losing all three of their group games, starting with a humiliating 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in their first ever finals match, having qualified under the management of Englishman and 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton.

Sansom made an error for the only goal of the game, toeing an attempted clearance high into the air and putting pressure on his fellow defenders, from which John Aldridge won a header for Ray Houghton to nod the ball past Peter Shilton. Sansom played in the other two group fixtures but after the tournament Stuart Pearce replaced him as England's first-choice left back. After nine years and 86 caps (plus one goal - scored in a World Cup qualifier against Finland in 1984) Sansom's international career was at an end, months before his 30th birthday, despite being briefly recalled as a back-up in 1989 when Pearce was injured, though he did not play.

Sansom is England's second-most capped full back after Ashley Cole (replacement Pearce came close, ending his international career in 1999 with 78 caps) and only eleven players - Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Steven Gerrard, Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright, Ashley Cole, Bryan Robson, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney - have appeared more times for England than Sansom. Jointly with Shilton, he holds the record for the most England caps in the 1980s, with 84.

After Arsenal[edit]

Sansom left Arsenal in December 1988, having not played a first team game at all for the first four months of 1988-89; Graham had signed Lee Dixon and had reshuffled the side, with Dixon playing at right-back and Nigel Winterburn on the left, replacing Sansom. Sansom had played 394 matches in total for Arsenal, scoring six goals. He is Arsenal's second-most capped player of all time, with 77 caps while at the club (Patrick Vieira holds the record with 79).

Sansom continued to play for many years. He initially joined Newcastle United, then continued with QPR, Coventry City, Everton, Brentford and Watford, as well as three short spells in the non-league game with Croydon, Chertsey Town and Slough Town.


After playing, Sansom fell on hard financial times with business and gambling problems and alcoholism.[4] Sansom returned to football as a player on the veterans' circuit. He was frequently called upon as a pundit to make comments on the game, especially with matters concerning Crystal Palace or Arsenal. He also made occasional appearances on Australian football show Fox Sports FC via satellite. He was also a tour guide on the "Legend's Tour" of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

He was a co-presenter of LBC Radio's Saturday afternoon football programme. Sansom was voted into Palace's Centenary XI.

In August 2013, it was reported that Sansom was homeless after having drunk and gambled away his fortune.[5][6]

On 7 February 2014, Sansom appeared at court in Bromley, charged with assault following an alleged incident at his former partner's property. He was cleared of all charges.[7]

On 7 June 2015, a homeless and alcoholic Sansom, stated he was close to suicide.[8]

Kenny has since appeared on the Jeremy Kyle Show (originally aired on 22 January 2016) to try and sort out his alcoholism problems.

Career statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1974-75 Crystal Palace Third Division 1 0
1975-76 6 0
1976-77 46 0
1977-78 Second Division 41 2
1978-79 42 0
1979-80 First Division 36 1
1980-81 Arsenal First Division 42 3 1 0 4 0 0 0 47 3
1981-82 42 0 1 0 5 1 4 0 52 1
1982-83 40 0 8 0 8 0 2 0 58 0
1983-84 40 1 1 0 4 0 0 0 45 1
1984-85 39 1 2 0 3 0 0 0 44 1
1985-86 42 0 5 0 7 0 0 0 54 0
1986-87 35 0 4 0 9 0 0 0 48 0
1987-88 34 1 4 0 8 0 0 0 46 1
1988-89 Newcastle United First Division 20 0
1989-90 Queens Park Rangers First Division 36 0
1990-91 28 0
1990-91 Coventry City First Division 9 0
1991-92 21 0
1992-93 Premier League 21 0
1992-93 Everton Premier League 7 1
1992-93 Brentford First Division 8 0
1994-95 Watford First Division 1 0
Total England 637 10
Career total 637 10

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list. England's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 17 October 1984 Wembley Stadium, London  Finland 5–0 5–0 FIFA World Cup 1986 qualifying round



Crystal Palace





  1. ^ "Ashley Cole deserves applause, not abuse". The Independent. 7 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Venables back at the Palace once again, BBC Sport, 14 February 2003
  3. ^ "Kenny SANSOM". Sporting Heroes. 
  4. ^ Kenny Sansom: I lost my wife, drank away my money and almost died like my old pal George Best The Daily Mail, 17 May 2008
  5. ^ [1] Former-footballer-Kenny-Sansom-admits-he's-homeless
  6. ^ [2] Kenny Sansom Broke
  7. ^ "Palace legend Kenny Sansom cleared of assault". Croydon Guardian. 
  8. ^ Patrick Hill (6 June 2015). "Homeless and alcoholic former Arsenal ace Kenny Sansom's heartbreaking confession: I'm close to suicide". mirror. 

Kenny Sansom appears on the Jeremy Kyle Show to talk about his addiction

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Graham Rix
Arsenal captain
Succeeded by
Tony Adams