‘Too scared’: Arsenal legend reveals he turned down Man Utd twice

Dan Butterfield
Arsenal defender Tony Adams

Arsenal legend Tony Adams had revealed that he twice turned down a move to rivals Manchester United, admitting he was ‘too scared’ to make the move.

Adams came through the Arsenal youth academy and spent nearly 20 years playing for the club, 14 years of those as captain, but it all could have been very different had he made the move to Old Trafford.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Adams revealed that United tried to sign him on two occasions.

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“The first [offer] was in 1990 and I was too young and too scared off the pitch.

“I was a completely different character on the pitch: I felt comfortable, I felt confident, I did my job.

“But off the pitch, I was scared to death, I didn’t know what to do, how to live and emotionally I wasn’t conscious. I know I was drinking too much.”

“I felt that London was my home, and I couldn’t for the life of me have lived in Manchester. I turned him down and I turned down a pay increase of £15,000-a-year.”

After turning down United in 1990, Sir Alex Ferguson returned with a second bid for the defender in 1996. Arsenal were struggling at the time and were without a league title in five years.

Adams had been struggling with his own personal issues off the field, suffering with alcoholism, something that he has been very open about since.

This meant that Adams did question where he future lied.

“I went to Peter Hillwood, who was the chairman of the club, and was completely open with him about the offer.

“I asked, ‘what’s the ambition of the club?’ You’d never hear of that today, a player speaking with the owner of the club and going, ‘hold on a minute, do we want to win the league or not, because if we don’t want to win the league, I’m out of here. I love the club, dearly. I don’t want to go anywhere but what are you doing?’”

“My salary got trebled as well. Let’s be honest – a trebled salary, we want to win the league and we have all these good players coming, so I said, ‘alright I will give it a roll, I’ll see what happens’.”

Adams made the decision to remain at Highbury and went on to win 10 major trophies under the tutelage of George Graham and Arsene Wenger.