Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has praised the impact of his long-time assistant manager Pat Rice, who departs the club after 44 years of service.
Rice first joined the north London club as a youth team player in 1964 and after a spell with Watford, rejoined the Gunners as youth team coach in 1984. After Wenger was appointed first-team manager in 1996, the Northern Ireland international took up a senior coaching role and has been Wenger's right-hand man ever since.
However, after 16 years as Wenger's assistant, Rice has decided to step down and the Gunners boss has paid tribute to Rice's contribution.
"Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion to this club," Wenger told arsenal.com.
Rice captained the Gunners to FA Cup glory in 1979 and made 528 appearances over a glittering 14-year playing career with Arsenal.
The 63-year-old has been part of an Arsenal set-up which has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups, and Wenger credits Rice's input as a valuable part of his management.
"Pat was always there and taught me so much about this great club. I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight into Arsenal and football as a whole," said the Frenchman.
Steve Bould, Arsenal's current youth team coach, will replace Pat Rice from the beginning of next season.
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