Sammy Nelson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sammy Nelson
Personal information
Full name Samuel Nelson
Date of birth (1949-04-01) 1 April 1949 (age 67)
Place of birth Belfast, Northern Ireland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Left-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1966–1981 Arsenal 339 (12)
1981–1983 Brighton
National team
1970–1982 Northern Ireland 51 (0)

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

Samuel "Sammy" Nelson (born 1 April 1949 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a Northern Ireland former footballer, who joined Arsenal on his 17th birthday in 1966.[1]

Originally a left-winger, Nelson was later moved back into defence to become a left back. He was a regular in Arsenal's reserve side for several seasons, before making his first-team debut against Ipswich Town on 25 October 1969. He was understudy to the Gunners' established left back, Bob McNab, and it wasn't until McNab was injured in the 1971–72 season did Nelson become a regular. Even then, whenever McNab returned from injury, Nelson was forced to step down to being reserve. He only played four league matches during Arsenal's 1970-71 Double-winning campaign, which was not sufficient to win a medal.[2]

In the meantime, Nelson had made his debut for Northern Ireland, as a sub against England on 21 April 1970. Nelson went on to win 51 international caps, including two of Northern Ireland's matches in the 1982 FIFA World Cup.[3]

McNab left Arsenal in the summer of 1975, and Nelson finally became Arsenal's first-choice left back. For the next five seasons he was a near ever-present in the Arsenal side, and he played in all three of the Gunners' successive FA Cup finals (1978, 1979 and, as a substitute, 1980 – but only winning the middle of the three) as well the Gunners' 1980 Cup Winners' Cup loss on penalties to Valencia.

An aggressive, hard-tackling full back, Nelson was a crowd favourite and known for his cheeky sense of humour.

With the arrival of England international Kenny Sansom at the club in 1980, Nelson once again found himself in the reserves. He left Arsenal in 1981 to join Brighton & Hove Albion. He played 339 first-class matches for the Gunners in total, and scored 12 goals.

Nelson spent two seasons at Brighton; although unable to save the side from relegation in 1982–83, they did reach another Cup final that season, losing to Manchester United 4–0 in a replay, after a 2–2 draw in the final, but Nelson missed the game. He retired from football that summer, and after spending a season as a coach at Brighton, he left the game completely and went into the insurance industry. He is currently a tour guide at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium as part of their "Legends Tour".

Nelson is married to Helen and they have a daughter named Emily and a two sons Peter and James. Emily is married to English cricketer Matt Prior, and they have a son named Jonathan.


  1. ^ Sammy Nelson Arsenal FC. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Arsenal appearances, Double season, 1970/71". Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Sammy Nelson Statistics FIFA. Retrieved 4 February 2010.