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Pat Rice awarded MBE in New Years Honours list

Arsene Wenger praised his former assistant manager and Arsenal stalwart Pat Rice after he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

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Rice made more than 400 appearances for the Gunners as a player, helping the club win the league and cup double in 1971.

After spending the final four years of his playing career at Watford, Rice rejoined Arsenal in 1984 as a youth team coach, and was appointed as Wenger's No.2 when the Frenchman took the helm in 1996.

Rice was assistant manager as the Gunners won the double twice more around the turn of the century, and also claimed the Premier League title in 2003-04 by going the whole season unbeaten in the competition.

"I am absolutely delighted because if someone deserves it, it's Pat Rice," Wenger said. "He had 100% genuine commitment every day and you respect that when you see that from somebody, and he is someone you could go to war with. You would love to be in the trenches with Pat and those are very difficult qualities to find in modern society."

Rice, who still works as a scout for Arsenal despite retiring from his full-time role in the summer, added: "I'm delighted and honoured to be receiving an MBE. The news of the award came as a complete surprise and I'm just so flattered to be included in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.

"Football and Arsenal have been my life and I have so many fantastic memories during my career. I have been lucky to have played and worked with so many great individuals, and through hard work I have enjoyed some success along the way.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my career, and importantly, a special thank you to all my family, who have always been there for me and supported me throughout my career."

In a list dominated by Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Rice is one of the few representatives of football to be honoured this time around. Another is former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, who is now head of the National Football Centre at St George's Park, Burton. He has been awarded the CBE for his services to the national game.

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