The brilliant Arsenal scout

The brilliant Arsenal scout

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04 Jun 2022
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Steve Rowley

Arsene Wenger was Arsenal’s head coach for 22 years. For a long time? A month of Sundays! But there is a man who worked at the club for 15 years longer. Steve Rowley joined Arsenal on a part-time basis in January 1980, and in 1996, by Wenger’s decision, he became head of scouting. Rowley built an extensive scouting system: 15 people in all who worked in France, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Brazil, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Germany. Rowley personally brought a large number of players to Arsenal – Tony Adams, Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, who later became club legends. Steve Rowley passed away in April 2022 at the age of 63 due to cancer. 

Rowley got the job thanks to Tony Adams. Prior to that, he often attended children’s tournaments in Essex.

It was the transfer of the future Arsenal legend that allowed Rowley to get a permanent job at the club. Until 1980, at the age of 22, he attended numerous children’s tournaments out of interest, watched from the sidelines, made notes to himself, although he was not related to any club. “Steve started babysitting at a very early age,” Francis Cajigao, who worked at Arsenal with Rowley’s scouting team and is now Chile’s sporting director, told The Athletic. – He rose from the bottom. It is very important to work your way up and grow. Now people come into the game straight away as analysts or data scientists, without the normal climb up the career ladder.” Rowley found and brought in Terry Burton, who once played at Arsenal and after his retirement became a youth team coach. For work, Burton constantly traveled to Essex, where he saw the ever-focused and smiling Steve Rowley, who followed the game and constantly wrote something down. Communication between men led to an offer to cooperate with Arsenal on a part-time basis. 

Already working at Arsenal, Rowley drew attention to an eleven-year-old guy who studied at the West Ham academy. “I was a bit naive at the time because this was my first young player,” Rowley told Arsenal club magazine. – I approached him at the West Ham training base, which, of course, is not worth doing now. Yes, and I wouldn’t. First, I needed to make the first contact. Later I asked his father Alex if he was interested in bringing his son to us.”

Tony and Alex Adams came to the evening training of the Arsenal academy. Terry Burton was busy, so they turned to junior team assistant coach Tommy Coleman.

“My name is Tony Adams and Steve Rowley sent me to you,” Adams told Coleman. Tommy has been absent from the club for some time. He turned to the Adamses and shouted, “Who is this Steve Rowley?” Coleman knew nothing about the scout who worked part-time at Arsenal.

Tony and Alex felt insulted and deceived and already wanted to go home, but Burton returned in time – he was able to explain the situation. So Steve Rowley brought the future captain and legend to Arsenal.

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