Liam Brady joined the club as a 15 year old and made his debut aged 17 against Birmingham City in 1973. He was used sparingly in that first season, by manager Bertie Mee.
It was not until the following season that Brady started to shine. His passing ability would continuously set up many chances for the front players, mainly Malcolm MacDonald and Frank Stapleton. With the support of manager Terry Neill and coach Don Howe, Brady was flourishing.
It was Brady who seemed to be dragging the club out of a slump and into a team capable of challenging for trophies. The club reached three successive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980. However, they only managed to win one of these.
The 1979 Final against Manchester United was one of Brady’s finest performances in an Arsenal shirt. The Irishman was almost unplayable as he set up first half goals for midfielder Brian Talbot and striker Frank Stapleton. United managed to pull themselves level with two late goals before Brady, with 89 minutes on the clock, broke into the United half. He fed the ball to Graham Rix on the left who crossed into the box for Alan Sunderland to score. Arsenal won 3-2 and took the FA Cup back to Highbury. Brady was immense during the 1978/79 season and won the PFA Player of the Year award.
The following season would be his last for the club, the Irishman would join Italian Serie A side Juventus for £500,000. Brady’s best performance that season was against Juventus in the Cup Winners Cup two legged semi final. Arsenal recorded an excellent 2-1 victory on aggregate, to reach the final against Valencia. Unfortunately for Brady the final was not his finest hour and he missed a penalty in the shoot out, Arsenal losing 5-4.
It was a disappointing end to his Arsenal career, and the Arsenal faithful were left to mourn the loss of the great Irishman, but he left them with some fantastic memories.
One of his greatest goals was against Tottenham in the 5-0 win. Brady won the ball on the edge of the Tottenham area before unleashing a sweet curling left foot shot into the top corner.
Liam Brady was a player blessed with fantastic technical ability and a sweet left foot. His passing range was superb and he also possessed great pace and strength. The ball seemed to stick to his feet when dribbling with the ball and he would be able to start attacks from deep in his own half.
He made 307 appearances for the club and scored 59 goals, as well as numerous assists. For Liam Brady and Arsenal it was disappointing that there was just the FA Cup win in 1979 to celebrate.
Brady went on to have a successful career in Italy for various clubs, before finishing his career at West Ham. Brady was also one of Ireland’s best players to wear the famous green shirt.
He returned to Arsenal in 1996 as Head of Youth Development and Academy director. He left the position in 2013 after years of successful youth campaigns. Brady now serves as an ambassador of The Arsenal Foundation.
He was the complete midfielder who could create space out of nothing. Had he stayed at Arsenal perhaps they would have won more trophies, but it was never to be. He is still regarded as one of the finest players to have played for the club with his technical ability and range of passing.
Oh, how the current team could do with Liam Brady sat in their midfield today. A truly world class player.