Liam Brady: who may (or may not) have signed pro forms on this day in 1973

By Tony Attwood

I wanted to write a piece about Liam Brady turning professional on this day (23 July) in 1973.  The problem is that although some sources such as “The Gunners: Day to Day Life at Highbury” say (and I quote exactly) “signed his first professional contract for Arsenal” on this day,  while Wiki says that “He turned professional on his 17th birthday in 1973”.

At least we can all agree he was born on 13 February 1956.  So 13 Feb or 23 July, you take your choice.

I don’t know if the slight difference in wording is significant, but a jaunt around the internet finds both dates being quoted – although the Wiki date turns up mostly on sites that seem to be copying from Wiki word for word, so clearly there is no real thinking or research going on.  In typical fashion Wiki gives no source for its date.

So maybe it is the anniversary of Liam Brady as a professional footballer for Arsenal on 23 July, but whether it is or not, let’s continue.

The tragedy is that Brady came to the first team just at the wrong time.  Having won the FA Youth Cup and youth league double in 1971, while the big boys were winning the FA Cup and Football League, Liam moved up as the club went into rapid decline.

In 1973/4 he made his first appearances for the first team, generally to rave reviews, and on 30 April 1974 scored his first goal – in the game in which Bob Wilson played his last game for the club.  (I don’t know any other web sites or books that say this – I only noticed it myself during my research on “Arsenal in the 70s” which will come out next year).

By 1975 the club spent much of the season playing in the relegation zone, escaping only in the latter part of the season to come 16th.  In 1976 when Liam played 41 of the 42 league games we were even worse and came 17th, were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third reason and the League cup in the second.

Liam of course did win some trophies: the FA Cup in 1979, and Serie A with Juventus in 1980/1 and 1981/2 and played in the Cup Winners Cup Final.  He also won 72 caps for Ireland.

During the Terry Neill era things did pick up and with Macdonald and Stapleton up front matters improved a bit, and he played in the three FA cup finals of the era, but it was not to be.

However he gave us one of the great, great moments – one of those moments which if you were there, stay with you forever.  At White Hart Lane on 23 December 1978.  Somewhere way out from the goal (I remember it as the half way line but I think it was closer to the penalty area!) he sent a shot right across the Tottenham goal and in to secure a 5-0 win.

And then he lifted his arms, and turned to the Shelf and stood there.

He became the first non-British player to win the PFA Player of the Year award but in 1980 signed for Juventus for £500,000 having played 307 games, scoring 59 goals.

After Juve he went on to Sampdoria, Inter and Ascoli in Italy, and then West Ham, which is not in Italy.  He retired in 1990, scoring in his last game.

After that it was to management: Celtic (1991/3) and Brighton (1993/5) but had no success with trophies.

But then he came back to Arsenal as Head of Youth Development and Academy Director, and is of course still with us.  In this regard he won

  • 1998: FA Premier Youth League
  • 2000: FA Youth Cup
  • 2000: FA Premier Academy League (under 17s)
  • 2001: FA Youth Cup
  • 2002: FA Premier Academy League (under 19s)
  • 2009: FA Youth Cup
  • 2009: FA Premier Academy League (under 18s)
  • 2010: FA Premier Academy League (under 18s)

He is thus the most successful youth team manager / head of youth development / academy director of all time at Arsenal.

And one of the very greatest players I have ever seen.


If you think you know your Arsenal historyit is time to think again.  Never before has one book so transformed what we know about a football club.  Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.



12 Replies to “Liam Brady: who may (or may not) have signed pro forms on this day in 1973”

  1. Great article,great player
    like many other Arsenal fans Liam ‘Chippy’ Brady was my idol and yes I was there sitting above the shelf with my dad (it was our first Spurs v Arsenal derby) and what felt like directly above him as he launched the strike that he will be most remembered for. My one regret with him was I had a signed programme frammed on my bedroom wall which as a distraught young lad I smashed to pieces when he left Arsenal something I lived to regret for along time. That regret has since passed once Chippy returned back to Highbury and Arsenal and long may he remain there.

  2. I read somewhere ages ago that he was called chippy because he like chips, not because of his short passes that was a speciality of his. Sadly I didn’t see ‘the goal’ live.

    If Arsene when at Monaco could have chosen between Liam and Glen (of N17) who would he have chosen?

  3. Yes the story about chips is on quite a few sites Colario, but I have no idea if it is true. If I ever have the honour of meeting him I’ll ask, as a History Society special request.

  4. I have a treasured photo of him presenting me with a trophy. He was with Peter marinello who played for Fulham at the time.

    I asked him to sign an autograph Chippy. He said “no my name is Liam.” So he signed it Liam. I was gutted.

    Loved the Guy, loved the match at WHL, his game against Leeds was a classic, away against liverpool, FA cup final, ECWC Run when he was sent off against Steau or someone, and Big Willy chipped in the winner. memories. What a player, Gooner legend!!!!!

    Brady Brady born to be King of Highbury!!!!!!!

  5. i always believed that a player signed a contract when he was old enough not at the start of every pre season so id go with the feb signing

  6. his gracious presence, his vision, his touch made me an Arsenal fan on my first visit to Highbury in 1979. He was the best player I had ever seen with my own eyes on a football pitch.

  7. According to the programme for the first game of the 1974-75 season which had a list of all the professionals and the date that they signed professional, Brady signed professional on 23 July 1973.

    I was probably too young to appreciate him before he left in 1979. However, he played in Pat Jennings’ farewell match in 1985 against Tottenham and was absolutely magnificent. 6 years in Italy had turned him into the world’s best.

  8. He was interviewed on an Irish tv chat show and the reason he explained why he was called Chippy was because he loved chips and that was basically all that he ate as a young fella but doesnt like being called it now and only a few mates from the 70s team are allowed call him that likes of Rice ,Jennings and Nelson

  9. I was there for his debut at Highbury – the only occasion I have ever sat in the Press Box (long story, don’t ask). He was astonishing and remained so throughout his career. In terms of ability to contol and retain the ball he was second to none and his passing was sublime. If Wilshere (the closest I’ve seen since) turns out to be as good we will indeed be blessed.
    Maybe because of the ability to rhyme their names only two players ever got the accolade ‘The King of Highbury’ Brady and Charlie (George) I don’t think the fact that they came up through the ranks is a co-incidence either.
    If you lived through his departure from the Club you can cope with anybody else’s. Truly a genius.

  10. Andy – so another 1-0 to us – and the book you helped write – and another defeat for Wiki. And we haven’t even started to correct the errors in relation to Woolwich Arsenal yet.

  11. i have just done a peter marinello bio for my site and the amount of stuff wiki had wrong amazes me, every player i do i find wiki is wrong at least once, i dont bother correcting it any more

    i know i put links to my stuff ive done on here but my site has no advertising and i never will have so any links i put is just to share what i do and not to make money as it does not make me a penny, but if im not allowed then just say so

    i just love players histories and have never found a site that has them in as much detail as mine will have although i tend to drift from one to another

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