Adams' record can never be beaten

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Tony Adams will lead England into tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Germany in the knowledge that he has set a record that no player will ever beat. The Independent, which today publishes the complete record of all 750 football matches played at Wembley stadium, reveals today that the England captain has played beneath the twin towers more times than any other player.

Tony Adams will lead England into tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Germany in the knowledge that he has set a record that no player will ever beat. The Independent, which today publishes the complete record of all 750 football matches played at Wembley stadium, reveals today that the England captain has played beneath the twin towers more times than any other player.

Adams' record of 59 Wembley appearances in all competitions and tournaments - 24 for Arsenal and 35 for his country - surpasses Peter Shilton's total of 58 by one.

The statistics also show that Adams' club side, Arsenal, have played more times at Wembley (41) than any other non-international team. Their record has been boosted by playing six European Champions' League games at the venue, as well as six friendlies in pre-season tournaments.

Sir Bobby Charlton, who will join the England team on the pitch before tomorrow's game, has played the next most Wembley games after Adams and Shilton, with 50. Sir Bobby's goalscoring record at the stadium is unsurpassed, however. The former Manchester United striker scored 27 goals there.

"I had no idea that I'd played more Wembley games than anyone else," Adams said yesterday, on being informed by the Independent of his record. "It's a great honour, because Wembley has been a very special place for me. It's the end of an era but I will never have been more proud to play there than I will when I lead England out on Saturday."

David Davies, the executive director of the Football Association, said: "It's an astonishing statistic which I'm sure will become a quiz-question favourite from now on.

"Everyone who has been connected to the England camp knows how much playing at Wembley means to Tony. How appropriate it should be him leading out his country on Saturday."

Speaking about Sir Bobby, who will be joined on the pitch before tomorrow's game by his friend and former rival, Franz Beckenbauer, Davies added: "When we thought about any special events that should take place this weekend, we quickly decided that Sir Bobby should be involved at the moment when the teams appear.

"The fact that he has scored more goals than anyone at Wembley will come as no surprise to those long enough in the tooth to remember him scoring goals such as England's first in the 1966 World Cup tournament and two more in the semi-final."

Adams, Shilton and Sir Bobby are followed in the Wembley appearances table by Bryan Robson (49), David Seaman (48), Stuart Pearce (47) and Bobby Moore (47).

Sir Bobby, who scored 23 times for England at Wembley as well as twice apiece for England schoolboys and Manchester United, is followed in the scoring charts by Gary Lineker (25 Wembley goals), Jimmy Greaves (20), Alan Shearer (18) and Sir Geoff Hurst (17), whose hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final remains the only hat-trick ever to have been scored in any World Cup final.

Arsenal, with 20 wins from their 41 games, are followed in the club appearances table by Cambridge University (38 appearances) and Oxford University (36), who contested the annual Varsity match at Wembley until 1987. Liverpool and Manchester United are joint fourth, with 33 games each. Liverpool have won 16 of theirs, while United have won 14. Next come Tottenham (20 matches, 10 wins), Everton (17 matches, eight wins) and Chelsea (15 matches, nine wins). Some 240 club sides, ranging from Ajax to Almondsbury Greenway (one appearance each), and from Barcelona to Barclays Bank (two each) have played at the venue.

In Wembley's 77-year history, England have played 222 matches at the stadium, winning 132, drawing 61 and losing 29. The most frequent international visitors have been Scotland (30 games), followed by Northern Ireland (18) and Wales (16). When Germany play tomorrow, it will be their ninth Wembley visit - six were as West Germany - and it will make them the joint-top non-British side (with Brazil) to have graced the Wembley turf.

The Wembley statistics published today have been prepared exclusively for The Independent by Wembley's official historian, Glen Isherwood, who began collating information about the stadium 17 years ago. He first approached Wembley seeking information but was told that compiling a full history would be "impossible" because only "minimal records" of events had been kept. His extensive research led to him being appointed as Wembley's official historian.

"I read a book once that said if the story of Wembley was ever recorded comprehensively it would fill many volumes," Isherwood said. "That's what made me compile it."

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