Every team needs characters like Sammy Nelson.
A funny and endearing individual, the Ulsterman was held in genuine affection by team-mates and supporters alike. Probably best remembered for dropping his shorts in celebration in front of the North Bank - an act for which he was suspended for a fortnight by the Football Association - he wasn't too bad at football either!
Nelson arrived at the club as a winger but was reborn as a left-back, going on to represent his country more than 50 times in defence. Although domestically he spent nearly half a decade as understudy to the well-established Bob McNab, Nelson became a near ever-present in the late 1970s and eventually accumulated 338 appearances for the Gunners. He played in all three of the Gunners' successive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980 and always showed appetite for the big occasion.
A fine strike in a League Cup trouncing of Leeds United in 1979 was the pinnacle of his goal-scoring feats, but Nelson was always willing to venture into enemy territory. At the back his obdurate tackling and bravery was complemented by a sure touch on the ball.
Nelson scored 12 times in his Arsenal career, but it was an own goal that led to the aforementioned 'mooning' incident. Against Coventry City, the Northern Irishman put through his own net, handing the Sky Blues an unlikely advantage. The North Bank was far from pleased and let him know about it. He took it upon himself to restore parity and duly did before bearing his backside to those behind the goal.
The jovial gesture and manner with which it was received by the fans was synonymous with the character of Nelson.
This list of 50 Gunners Greatest Players was determined by tens of thousands of Arsenal fans from across the world. The vote took place on the club’s official website in 2008. To help prevent multiple voting by a single person, only registered members of Arsenal.com could take part.
Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.