Adams reunited with old pal Potts

Arsenal and England great Tony Adams MBE is commonly considered to be one of the finest centre-backs in Premier League history.

Capped 66 times by his country, Adams captained the Gunners to the Double in their amazing 2001/02 season.

The 47-year-old won 13 trophies during his 20-year Arsenal career, but during a recent visit to watch West Ham United U21s in action, Adams revealed that he could easily have been a Hammer rather than a Gunner!

To start with, West Ham TV asked the outstanding defender why he had chosen to watch West Ham's youngsters take on Liverpool on a Friday evening at Rush Green Stadium. The answer was that Romford-born Adams had returned home.

"I was actually visiting my Mum and Dad's grave, which is just around the corner from Rush Green," he poignantly revealed. "I went to school about a mile down the road on the other side of Central Park. My Dad was a West Ham fan and every Christmas Day he would sing 'Bubbles' to us all!

"I used to play badminton in the Civic Centre down the road there when I was at school, so they were happy days!

"It's a bit of a trip down memory lane for me as I bumped into my old mate Stevie Potts, who I have known for about 40-odd years, so that was great.

"There are numerous reasons why I came down to the game, as I had to chat with [Liverpool U21s manager] Alex Inglethorpe about a few things as well."

Adams enjoyed many battles with his old school friend Potts and West Ham over the years, winning most of them!

However, if things had turned out differently, the one-time Hunters Hall Primary School and Eastbrook Comprehensive School pupil could have pulled on a claret and blue shirt, rather than a red and white one.

"I loved the derby matches," he recalled. "Weirdly I did score a lot of goals against West Ham, but perhaps that's because I tried a little bit harder because I came from the area.

"It was always great to play against West Ham, as I always seemed to find myself on the end of things and scored a few goals - unfortunately for West Ham!

"I chose at 14 to go in the Arsenal direction because there was a great coach there called Terry Burton who is back at the club now - he was pretty much the only reason I went to Arsenal and didn't join Stevie over at the Hammers.

"That's how things go and your past can go different ways, as it can for clubs as well."

At present, West Ham are thriving under another former centre-back in manager Sam Allardyce - a man whose methods Adams has always been impressed by.

"Sam is very organised and Neil McDonald is there as well, and West Ham are good in both boxes and I think that's important.

"People under-estimate that side of the game because 30 per cent of goals come from set plays, so that's important.

"Sometimes, it's not attractive but one of the reasons Arsenal have not won the league in recent years is because they have not had that resilience in both boxes. West Ham certainly have that, so credit to them.

"It's been great that West Ham have pulled away from the relegation zone."

*To watch Tony Adams' West Ham TV interview in full, including his view on West Ham's current centre-backs, click here.