Former Arsenal captain and assistant club manager Pat Rice has been admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment, according to a report from the Telegraph on Thursday.
The 64-year-old Belfast-born Rice, who spent 44 years with the organization, made 528 appearances for the Gunners over 14 seasons. He won the league and FA Cup Double in 1971 and also won 49 caps for Northern Ireland.
He joined Arsenal as a youth team coach in 1984 and, most recently, had stepped down last season from his position as assistant manager, a role he's served in since 1996, handing the reigns to Arsene Wenger.
During his retirement last year, Rice was lauded by Wenger for his lifetime of dedication to the club:
"Pat is a true Arsenal legend and has committed almost his whole life to Arsenal Football Club, which shows huge loyalty and devotion," the Frenchman said at the time. I will always be indebted to him for his expert insight."
Wegner issued the following statement on Thursday via the team's website regarding Rice's admittance to the hospital, saying he trusts that Rice's "legendary strength" will lead him past cancer and to better health again:
"It's very sad news. Not only do we love him but of course we are very grateful for what he has done here. We are in touch with him but I trust his legendary strength to get over it. I'm confident that he still has the fighting spirit he always had to get over it and that he will come out in a successful way. That's what he needs now - he has that. In such a difficult period it's a huge resource. His mental state is very determined, very strong as he always has been. He will fight for that, I have complete trust that he will come out in a very strong way and of course let's hope for the best."WILSON: Despite defiance, pressure mounting on Tottenham's Villas-Boas