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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
End of an Arsenal era
Arsenal captain Tony Adams shows off the Premiership and FA Cup trophies
Tony Adams retired at the top

Tony Adams' retirement finally spells the end of Arsenal's 'old guard'.

The back four of Adams, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon was the bedrock on which Arsenal's success under George Graham was built.

Winterburn, Dixon and Bould all moved to Highbury under Graham within the space of 13 months from 1987 to 1988.

The following year, Arsenal won their first title in 18 seasons, snatching the trophy from Liverpool's grasp in a dramatic final-day win at Anfield.

But it was Graham's second title campaign, two years later, which really underlined the power of his carefully-assembled back four.

Despite being without Adams for two months as he served a jail sentence for drink-driving, Arsenal's rearguard was firmly established.

'One-nil to the Arsenal' became a common Highbury terrace chant and Arsenal conceded only 18 league goals all season.

  Famous four's honours
1989: Division One title
1991: Division One title
1993: FA Cup, League Cup
1994: Cup Winners' Cup
1998: Premiership, FA Cup

Injury meant Bould missed Arsenal's double cup triumph in 1993, Andy Linighan filling his boots in the FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday and veteran David O'Leary stepping in for the League Cup triumph over the same side.

But the following year, the old faithful were restored as Adams, Bould, Dixon and Winterburn kept out a Parma attack which included Faustino Asprilla and Gianfranco Zola in Arsenal's 1-0 Cup Winners' Cup final win.

Martin Keown's second spell at Arsenal gradually saw him replace Bould at the heart of the Gunners' defence in the years that followed.

But Arsenal's glorious Double triumph in 1998 still featured the usual suspects of Adams, Dixon and Winterburn alongside the captain's interchangeable central defensive partners.

Fortress Highbury's most famous old relic finally started to dismantle in 1999, when Bould left to join Sunderland.

The following year, Winterburn ended his 13-year spell at Highbury by moving across London to West Ham.

And this summer, old warhorse Dixon finally called it a day, with Adams likely to follow.

Between them, Arsenal's famous back four boast well over 2,000 Arsenal appearances.

Adams' testimonial against Celtic last season provided the opportunity for a reunion of the famous Highbury rearguard and the veteran quartet reproduced some old steel in keeping a young Celtic attack at bay.

Here, BBC Sport Online looks back on the careers of the Highbury four.

Arsenal captain Tony Adams has announced his retirement
Adams was a one-club man

Tony Adams
Age: 35
Playing career: 1984-2002
Career appearances: 667+6 (49 goals)
Other clubs: None
What now: Adams appears keen on a move into management. He was reportedly turned down by Brentford recently but has since been linked with the vacant posts at Watford and Brighton. Also working hard on writing career and his own charity, Sporting Chance, which offers support to footballers addicted to alcohol and dugs.

Lee Dixon played more than 600 games for Arsenal
Dixon has business interests

Lee Dixon
Age: 38
Playing career: 1982-2002
Career appearances: 815+22 (39 goals)
Arsenal appearances: 602+21 (27 goals)
Other clubs: Burnley, Chester, Bury, Stoke.
What now: After 14 years with Arsenal, Dixon was keen to quit at the top and winning the Double for a second time was the perfect finale. Now has more time to concentrate on business venture, including running his restaurant.

Former Arsenal left-back Nigel Winterburn
Winterburn had 13 years at Highbury

Nigel Winterburn
Age: 38
Playing career: 1981-
Career appearances: 840+15 (21 goals)
Arsenal appearances: 577+12 (12 goals)
Other clubs: Birmingham, Oxford, Wimbledon, West Ham.
What now: Took a big cut in wages in order to enjoy one more season at the top with West Ham. Reluctant to retire, he had been prepared to drop into the First Division before West ham agreed to offer him a new 12-month contract.

Former Arsenal defender Steve Bould joined Sunderland
Bould joined Sunderland in 1999

Steve Bould
Age: 39
Playing career: 1980-2000
Career appearances: 590+30 (15 goals)
Arsenal appearances: 351+24 (8 goals)
Other clubs: Stoke, Torquay (loan), Sunderland.
What now: Announced his retirement in September 2000 after failing to shrug off a toe injury. Reluctant to end his career outside the top flight and is now limited to the occasional testimonial game, including Adams' match against Celtic this season.

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