Patrick James Rice, a Northern Irish former footballer, he made over 500 appearances for Arsenal, winning the Double, and later made a hundred more appearances for Watford. He also won 49 caps for Northern Ireland. After retirement from playing professionally he was at the helm of Arsenal’s Academy teams, then served as assistant manager of Arsenal, a position he held since the appointment of Arsène Wenger in 1996, and helped the club to two more Doubles, amongst other silverware, in that time. He announced his retirement from the post on 10 May 2012.
Born in Belfast, Rice grew up in London where he attended Gifford Street Primary School as a young boy. He later on worked at a greengrocers on Gillespie Road which is the street Highbury Stadium is upon. Veering toward the sport of football, Rice joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1964. He turned professional in 1966 and worked his way up as a defender through the club’s youth and reserve teams. Rice thereafter made his first-team debut in the League Cup against Burnley on 5 December 1967, a match that Arsenal won 2–1.
Playing in particular as a right back, Rice was initially a bit-part player, making only 16 appearances in his first three seasons at Arsenal. He also went on to miss out on Arsenal’s 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win over RSC Anderlecht. However, during this time he won his first cap for Northern Ireland, against Israel on 10 September 1968, while still largely a reserve player. Peter Storey was Arsenal’s first choice right back, but he was soon moved into central midfield at the start of the 1970–71 season. With this being so, Rice took his place and was a near-ever present figure in the side of that season, as Arsenal won the League and FA Cup Double. Rice remained first-choice right back for the club as he played in the 1972 FA Cup Final as well. He was also a regular injury free presence for three full seasons being 1971–72, 1975–76 & 1976–77. Of the Double-winning side, he was the one who remained at the club the longest, taking up the role as club captain in 1977. As captain, Rice had the honour of lifting the FA Cup after Arsenal beat Manchester United in 1979, as well as losing two finals in 1978 and 1980. He is one of only 3 Arsenal players to have played in five FA Cup Finals (1970–71, 1971–72, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80), the other two being David Seaman and Ray Parlour. He also led Arsenal to the 1980 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, which Arsenal lost on penalties to Valencia.
Rice continued to play for Northern Ireland in this time, amassing 49 caps in an eleven-year career, which ended with his final international game against England on 17 October 1979, which ended in a 5–1 defeat. Rice finally left Arsenal in 1980 at the age of 31, by which time he had played 528 games in total for the club.
He moved to Graham Taylor’s Watford where he helped the club as captain gain promotion to the First Division in 1981–82. Rice scored in Watford’s first game in the top flight in 1982–83 against Everton before retiring from playing in 1984. In his final season he helped Watford reach the 1984 FA Cup Final. After Wilf Rostron was suspended for the game Rice was considered to replace him but was ultimately left out of the squad. In all the defender played a total of 137 times for the Hornets.
- Full Name: Patrick James Rice
- Position: Defender
- Date of Birth: 17.03.1949
- Birthplace: Belfast
- Nation: N Ireland
- Club Career: Arsenal
- Period: 1967-1980
- League Games, 397
- League Goals, 12
- Previous Club: –
- Transfer Fee: –
- Facts / Photo / Video
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