Former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams has been named the new president of English rugby league’s governing body, it announced on Wednesday.
Despite his roots in football, Adams has close links with rugby league through his Sporting Chance charity.
The 52-year-old will replace current Rugby Football League (RFL) president Andy Burnham, a politician for the centre-left Labour party and the mayor of Manchester, in the middle of next year.
“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,” RFL chairman Brian Barwick said.
“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.
“The game has recognised the importance of mental health, for players and everyone else involved, and Tony’s election is another significant step in that regard.”
Adams, who made more than 500 appearances for Arsenal and won 66 caps for England, founded the Sporting Chance clinic in 2000 following his own experiences with alcohol and drug addiction.
Since the end of his playing career, Adams has had spells as manager of Wycombe, Portsmouth, Gabala and Granada.
“It will be an honour to become the next president of the RFL,” said Adams, who won four English top-flight titles with Arsenal.
“I’m 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.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)