FOOTBALL legend dyed-in-the-wool Arsensal man Pat Rice is in hospital with cancer.
Married Pat, 64, served the Gunners as a player, youth coach and assistant manager before he retired in May last year.
An Arsenal spokesman added: “Our thoughts are with Pat and his family.
“Everyone at Arsenal sends him our best wishes.”
In a glittering playing career, the full back appeared more than 500 times for Arsenal and Watford and won 49 caps for Northern Ireland.
He joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1964 and made his breakthrough in the side which won the league and cup double in 1971.
Rice, who became captain in 1977, led his side to a 3-2 FA Cup Final win over Manchester United in 1979. He played in five FA Cup finals in total.
In 1980 he joined Graham Taylor’s Watford before he returned to Arsenal as a youth coach in 1984.
He later had a brief but successful stint as caretaker manager, winning all three Premier League games until Arsene Wenger took over in 1996.
Rice, who lives in North London, became Wenger’s assistant and played a key role in the club’s successes in the 1990s and 2000s – including two league and cup doubles in 1997-98 and 2001-2.
He was awarded the MBE for services to sport in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list.
On his friend’s retirement, Wenger said: “Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion.
“I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight.”