Gus Poyet and Arsene Wenger pay tribute to former Hartlepool United and Sunderland boss Len Ashurst

NEWS AT LEN:  Len Ashurst aheead of his news conference as the new Sunderland manager in March 1984
NEWS AT LEN: Len Ashurst aheead of his news conference as the new Sunderland manager in March 1984
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FORMER Sunderland player and manager, Len Ashurst, will be recognised as one of football’s longest-serving bosses ahead of tomorrow’s Black Cats v Arsenal clash at the Stadium of Light.

Ashurst, who managed Hartlepool United and Sunderland, has been formally inducted into the League Managers’ Association Hall of Fame’s 1000 club, as one of just 23 men to have reached the landmark of 1,000 competitive games.

During a 22-year career in the dug-out, Ashurst took charge of 1,089 games with nine different clubs, including Pools in the 70s and Sunderland in the 80s, taking the Wearsiders to Wembley in the 1985 Milk Cup final.

To mark the occasion, Ashurst – who still holds the Sunderland club appearance record as an outfield player – will be presented with a specially commissioned crystal trophy by Black Cats boss Gus Poyet and counterpart Arsene Wenger prior to this weekend’s encounter.

Poyet said: “Len has legendary status here at Sunderland.

“He is an integral part of our club history, both as a player and a manager and I will be honoured to be part of this wonderful tribute.”

Wenger added: “It will be a privilege to present Len with this memento, which formally recognises him reaching and exceeding the milestone of 1,000 professional matches as a manager.

“Speaking from personal experience, I know of the level of dedication and preparation required for just one match, so when that is multiplied 1,000 times you know the level of sacrifice required.

“I have huge admiration and respect for this achievement, and pass on my personal congratulations to Len.”