Graham RIX

Graham Rix - England - Biography of his England football career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 15 October 1980

Click on image to enlarge

    • POSITION
      Left Midfielder
    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Wednesday, 23 October 1957
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      Askern, England.
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • England
  • CLUBS
  • Arsenal FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1975-1988
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 2nd April 1977 scoring in a 3-0 win at home to Leicester City (Aged: 19)
    • Club Career
      338 League apps (+13 as sub), 41 goals
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Graham RIX - England - Biography of his England football career.

(Part 1) 1980 - June 1982.

 

One of the English game's best crossers of a ball, Arsenal's dynamic winger Graham Rix was a rare success story at international level for the underachieving Gunners side of the late 70s and early 80s, although a dearth of out-and-out wingers of consistency did help his cause for his country. A teenage star, Rix was tipped to reach the very top of the game as he settled into the Arsenal team and could easily have been called up by the time he was 20, with a number of superlative performances forcing many a keen eye in his direction. Ron Greenwood, however, plumped for Peter Barnes and Laurie Cunningham as he tried to mould an attacking force based on sheer pace down the flanks, and although both were outstanding players, moves to West Bromwich Albion and Real Madrid respectively seemed to nullify their effect thanks to less kind tactical policy within those clubs, and as such their form suffered. Greenwood tried to tuck in his midfield during the 1980 European Championship finals but it didn't work, and the need for some real width was too great to resist once he re-stocked his resources after the finals and started to look to the World Cup in 1982.

 

Rix took his chance after a fine season in 1980 which saw Arsenal reach Cup finals both domestically and in Europe, and Greenwood handed him a baptism of fire debut in the opening World Cup qualifier against Norway which England won 4-0 (the photo above is during the game) and Graham looked like he'd been in the side for years. By the end of England's topsy-turvy but ultimately successful campaign 14 months later, Rix had six caps and a proper indiciation of what his coach required from him if he were to be in the squad for the finals. Barnes and Cunningham were off the scene, never to return, and only Aston Villa's Tony Morley emerged as a serious rival to the role of out-and-out left winger, assuming Greenwood decided to operate with one. Steve Coppell's place on the right was set in stone, and therefore it depended entirely on Greenwood's tactical prediction for the individual game ahead as to whether an orthodox outside left would also be required, and only then would Rix be picked. He won just two caps in 1982 prior to the announcement of the squad - sub appearances against Holland and Finland - but he was handed a place in the final party which lifted off for Spain on form and in good spirits. (Matthew Rudd)

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Photo of Graham Rix playing for England G.Herringshaw.©

      

                                              (Part 2) 1982 World Cup - 1984.

 

Graham Rix was a fine winger, but with wingers not always being a necessity in Ron Greenwood's structural thinking, he had to rely a little on the opposition's tactical policy in order to enhance his prospects of playing in the World Cup from the start. Luckily, Greenwood opted for a hard-built central midfield to feed two natural wingers for the opener against France (the photo above is during the game), and it worked a treat. Rix, playing in front his Arsenal team-mate Kenny Sansom, did well as England won 3-1 and he stayed in the side for the remaining brace of group games as England also defeated Czechoslovakia and Kuwait. The second group phase didn't have a reason to faze England in the form they were in and Greenwood therefore made no tweaks to his favourite XI, just reversing the changes he had made for the Kuwait game for fatigue purposes as England had already assured themselves of qualification. This didn't affect Rix, who swung in a number of peach-like crosses from his byline in both matches against West Germany and Spain, but England couldn't get the breakthrough goal in either and came home undefeated after two 0-0 draws. Rix's World Cup ended when he was substituted by Greenwood to see if the returning Trevor Brooking, who had been carrying an injury, could inspire the team to a much-needed victory against Spain, but it wasn't to be. Graham's World Cup had been a personal success as he started all five matches, but the anti-climax felt by the team was reciprocated across the whole nation.

 

Bobby Robson took over as coach and used Rix in his first two matches - a 2-2 draw in qualification for the 1984 European Championships with Denmark, and a 2-1 friendly defeat to the West Germans - before indifferent form from both Graham and Arsenal prompted the new coach to look elsewhere, finding the phenomenonal talent of John Barnes in the process. Rix came back once in 1983 as a sub in a goalless European qualifier against Greece, and a burst of form a year later persuaded Robson to try him again in the Home Inetrnational match against Northern Ireland, but by now Barnes had his feet under the table. Rix's form improved when George Graham took over as Arsenal coach but by now he was nearing 30 and was not going to catch Robson's eye again with the likes of Barnes, Chris Waddle and Steve Hodge all ahead of him. Rix, who won 15 of his 17 caps playing in front of clubmate Sansom, didn't waste his talent in an England shirt, but tragically he did waste it in an Arsenal shirt once his England career was off and running, and with Robson relying on club form ahead of reputation, that probably cost him 40 more caps. (Matthew Rudd)