Pat Rice to leave post as Arsenal assistant manager

Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice will leave the club at the end of the season, with Steve Bould confirmed as his replacement.

Rice, 63, has been Arsene Wenger's right-hand man since 1996 and his departure will bring to an end a 48-year association with the club.

"Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal," said Wenger.

Bould steps up from Arsenal's academy, where he has worked since 2001.

Bould impressed Wenger by leading the club's youngsters to the FA Youth Cup in 2009 and to the Premier Academy League title in 2008 and 2009.

"His qualities are that he has the experience of the top-level game. He has managed here. He knows our football philosophy and therefore there will be a continuity," said Wenger.

"We always want to give an advantage to people who know how we work, how we want to coach."

As part of the reshuffle, reserve team coach Neil Banfield will be promoted to join Wenger and Bould in coaching the first team.

Rice's departure will mark the end of an era at Arsenal.

He joined the club as a youth-team player in 1964 before turning professional two years later and went on to make more than 500 appearances for the Gunners, captaining the side to FA Cup victory in 1979.

Rice left Arsenal for a four-year spell with Watford in 1980 before returning to the club as a youth-team coach.

Working alongside Wenger, the Northern Irishman has helped guide the club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

"His life was linked with Arsenal. Arsenal was privileged to have him as a player, as a captain, as a coach and personally I'm very grateful for his contribution to my period here," said Wenger.

"I would like him to forgive me for the bad moments I've given him as well but he has been a constant loyal supporter and I'm just very grateful and privileged to have him at my side for such a long time."