LONDON (Reuters) – Former Arsenal and England soccer star Tony Adams will become president of the Rugby Football League next year, the country’s governing body for the sport said on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old will succeed Andy Burnham as RFL president in 2019. His last senior role in sport was a short stint as manager of Spanish side Granada last year, but he could not prevent their relegation from La Liga and was sacked.
RFL chairman Brian Barwick said that Adams’ work in rugby league through his Sporting Chance charity had made him an ideal candidate for the role.
“Tony Adams is known and respected throughout sport and beyond, not only for his outstanding playing career with Arsenal, but more recently for his pioneering work with Sporting Chance,” Barwick said in a statement.
“The charity has helped more than 400 rugby league players since the RFL entered into an official partnership with Sporting Chance in 2011, and Tony himself delivered seminars at Wigan and Hull earlier this year.”
Adams, who spent his entire playing career at Arsenal winning four top-flight league titles, set up Sporting Chance in 2000 after battling with drug and alcohol addiction.
“It will be an honour to become the next President of the RFL,” he said.
“I am passionate about working with everyone in the sport to raise the profile of mental health, wellness and resilience, for players and for everyone in Rugby League.
“I’d like to play my part in championing this brilliant sport on the national stage.”
Adams hung up his boots in 2002 and had short coaching stints at Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and Azeri club Gabala.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Alexander Smith)