Cesc Fabregas leads tributes as Arsenal's iconic chief scout Steve Rowley dies aged at 63 after short illness

CESC FABREGAS led the tributes as Arsenal announced the death of legendary former chief scout Steve Rowley.

The 63-year-old passed away after a short illness, it was revealed.



Rowley joined the Gunners way back in 1980 and remained part of the club until 2017.

He discovered talents such as former iconic ex-skipper Tony Adams and Ray Parlour during his early days at Arsenal.

He was then appointed in a full-time capacity by George Graham after those successes.

And he enjoyed a further promotion to chief scout under Arsene Wenger.

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A statement from the North London club confirmed the sad news today.

It read: “Everyone at the club is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our former chief scout Steve Rowley after a short illness.

“Steve, 63, had been associated with the Club since January 1980, when he began a part-time role in our youth scouting operations in Essex.

“Notable early successes in the identification of talent – including Tony Adams and Ray Parlour – led to a full-time position during George Graham's time as manager.

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“Upon his arrival in 1996, Arsene Wenger appointed Steve as our Chief Scout, a position he held until 2017.”

It added: “During four decades with the club, Steve and his network of scouts were responsible for identifying and securing many players instrumental in on-pitch success for the club. 

“Our thoughts are with Steve’s family and friends at this time. Rest in peace, Steve.”

Former Gunners ace Fabregas led the tributes to Rowley with a touching message alongside two pictures of the pair together.

The Spanish midfielder tweeted: :What a sad day it is. A great man has left us, a true Arsenal legend.

"I don’t know where I would be today if you didn’t manage to convince Arsene to sign me as a 16 years old.

"I will never forget your advices and the confidence you gave me everyday. You will be greatly missed."

Rowley, who played a key role in Robin van Persie joining Arsenal back in 2004, was in charge of 15 scouts based around the globe.

Discussing how his role worked back in 2015, Rowley said: “I’ll usually take the boss’s interest about six or seven times during the season and I will say that at the moment there are some really good youngsters about.

“Whether the manager pursues it depends on what he wants.

“He does tell me what positions we need for example, then I will pass that information onto my scouts.

“But if we are talking about youngsters then he’s not too worried. Good players are good players, you shouldn’t worry about position.

“Then finally if the boss wants him in then it’s down to the money men to sort out the deal and my involvement is finished as far is the transfer is involved.”


However two years ago Van Persie, who had verbally agreed to join PSV from Feyenoord before opting for the Gunners, revealed Rowley’s influence in him heading to England.

He said: “We had to play against Ajax and it was a bad experience for me because the fans came to the pitch and it wasn’t very nice but actually from a bad day something really good happened because the chief scout of Arsenal Steve Rowley was there watching the game.

“I had beer thrown at me, spit at me when I was taking a corner it was a bad day. But I kept my cool and I was mature, scored a goal, played really well but I was about to sign for PSV, I was close to PSV.

“My dad and a couple of friends were there and went to get a beer close to the hotel in Amsterdam.

"In the same hotel, Rowley was staying and he heard about the news – this is 100 per cent true this is not a fairytale – he went to have a beer at the bar and they sat next to each other.

“They started talking because they knew each other from before. My dad said ‘Listen if you want something, if Arsenal want to buy Robin, you have to be quick because he’s about to sign for PSV in the next few days’.

“Steve got on the phone to Arsene and Steve made sure he said ‘Listen I know it’s a gamble’ but I wasn’t expensive, I was like 4m Euro back then.

“Steve told Arsene ‘Listen take the gamble, it’s on me. He’s good, he played in a difficult game and he’s ready for his chance’.

“The following day I wasn’t on my way to Eindhoven but I booked my trip to London and within a couple of days I signed and everything was done.”

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