Northern Ireland

Arsenal coach Pat Rice retires

Pat Rice
Image caption Rice played more than 500 games for Arsenal

Former Northern Ireland international Pat Rice has retired from his role at Arsenal.

He made over 500 first team appearances during 14 years as a player at the club.

After a brief spell at Watford, Rice returned to the Arsenal as a youth team coach in 1984.

During this time Rice guided Arsenal to two F.A. Cup wins.

Arsene Wenger has paid tribute in a statement on the Arsenal website saying:

"Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion to this club.

"When I first arrived at Arsenal, Pat was always there and taught me so much about this great club. I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight into Arsenal and football as a whole."

Inspiration

Rice's contribution was recognised in a string of tweets from Arsenal first team players this week:

"@JackWilshere Mr Pat Rice.....44 years at the Arsenal....Take a bow! Thanks for everything you have done for me!"

While Emanuel Eboue said he had been inspired by Rice:

"@ManuEboue- Pat Rice thank you so much for all your work with me in the past. You are my inspiration and Arsenal will miss you. Thank you much Pat."

Rice enjoyed a short but successful spell as caretaker manager prior to the appointment of Arsene Wenger in October 1996.

They went on to form one of the most successful coaching duos of the Premier League era.

The BBC understands that 63-year-old Rice will be replaced by former Gunners defender Steve Bould.

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