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Scottish striker, nicknamed 'Wee Alex', Alex James was the outstanding player of the great Arsenal side of the 1930s.
Born in Mossend, Lanarkshire, James was probably the most complete player of his generation He began his career with Raith Rovers in 1922 but went south of the border in 1925 joining Preston North End. James was brought to Arsenal by Herbert Chapman who paid Preston £8750 for his services in 1929.
Although only five and a half feet tall and less than ten and a half stone, over the next eight years, James was the inspirational figure in a side which won four championships and two FA Cup victories. He played as an inside forward, as a supporting player for the main strikers. He was famed for the excellent quality of his passing and supreme ball control. In order to circumvent the maximum wage rules, Arsenal arranged it so that his employment at the club was supplemented by a £250-a-year "sports demonstrator" job at Selfridges, one of London's most famous department stores.
In common with other players playing south of the border, James opportunities of playing Scotland were limited. It was not helped by the fact that Preston refused to release him for international matches. This allied to his brash personality ensured that he won only eight caps for his country. He was, however, one of the Wembley Wizards, scoring twice in Scotland's 5-1 over England at Wembley in March 1928.
Famous for wearing extra-long shorts that emphasized his short stature (he said they kept his knees warm), James dominated English football in the 1930s with his skill and famously short temper. He retired as a player in 1937 and during World War II he served in the Royal Artillery and later worked as a journalist and coach until his early death from cancer.