Born in Harlesden, North West London, Merson started his career at Arsenal, joining the club as an apprentice in 1984. After a loan spell at Brentford, then under manager Frank McLintock, he made his debut for the Gunners on 22 November 1986 against Manchester City, and gradually established himself in George Graham’s successful Arsenal side of the late 1980s. By the 1988–89 season he was a regular on the right wing, at the end of which Arsenal secured the First Division title with a stoppage time Michael Thomas goal in the final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield. Merson scored ten times that season, made his debut for the England U21 side, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. In 1991, Merson achieved another league championship with Arsenal and had the highest goalscoring season of his career with 13 goals. He also won a double of the FA Cup and League Cup in 1993, scoring in the 1993 Football League Cup Final against Sheffield Wednesday. A year later, he helped Arsenal win its first European trophy in 24 years as the Gunners defeated Parma in Copenhagen to win the 1993–94 European Cup Winners’ Cup. Merson’s career was put on the line in November 1994 when he admitted to having addictions to alcohol, cocaine and gambling. The Football Association arranged for Merson to undergo a three-month rehabilitation programme and he returned to the side in February 1995, just before the dismissal of George Graham as manager. Under caretaker manager Stewart Houston, Merson helped Arsenal reach the Cup Winners’ Cup final for the second season in a row, where Arsenal lost to Real Zaragoza at the Parc des Princes in Paris. In 1995–96, Merson remained a regular first team player under Arsenal’s new manager Bruce Rioch and continued to play regularly during the 1996–97 season following the appointment of Arsène Wenger. In a somewhat surprising move, at the end of the 1996–97 Premiership campaign, in which Arsenal finished third, Merson was sold to relegated Middlesbrough in a £4.5million deal – making him the most expensive player ever signed by a non-Premiership club. Wenger had offered Merson a new two-year contract, but Merson elected to join Boro for a longer contract. Merson played 423 times for Arsenal and scored 99 goals in all competitions. In 2008, Merson was ranked the 26th greatest Arsenal player of all-time in a fan poll published by the club’s official website.