It was the summer of 1996 when Arsenal sacked Bruce Rioch and appointed a relatively unknown Frenchman named Arsene Wenger, whose first name looked quite similar to the club name, as the manager of the English league side. Only the club staff can answer as to why Wenger was selected over Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff for the role.
Amazingly, the gamble paid. Wenger completes his 20 years at Arsenal on Thursday, a month ahead of his 67th birthday. On 22 September 1996, he was appointed as the manager of the club but he officially assumed his role on 1 October 1996.
From Patrick Vieira to Thierry Henry and from Cesc Fabregas to Andrey Arshavin, Wenger spearheaded top transfers for the Gunners during his reign. He was the chief architect of the "Invincibles" -- the famous Premier League 2003-04 season where Arsenal didn't lose even a single league game on their way to a third English league title.
Thereafter, the infamous "Pizzagate" incident happened where Sir Alex Ferguson, the then Manchester United manager, was thrown at a pizza at the Old Trafford tunnel, following the home side's 2-0 victory over Arsenal on 24 October 2004, a result that ended the Gunners' 49-match unbeaten run. It was reportedly Fabregas who was behind the mischief, but the incident gave rise to a heated rivalry between Wenger and Ferguson over the years.
Wenger may not have guided his army for an English league title for over a decade now, but his dedication and passion to fight hard and portray the competitive spirit and make sure his side finishes in the top four gives the Arsenal board plenty of reasons to stay loyal to him. This, at a time, when numerous managers are making their way out from the Premier League owing to poor performances.
No team can be attractive and fantastic in every match, but my message to the fans is come here and be happy"
- Arsene Wenger in his first press conference.
Interesting facts about Arsene Wenger:
Wenger promoted pasta as the pre-match dish, encouraged boiled chicken instead of red meat and discouraged junk food. The players received optional vitamin injections and Creatine, which reduced fatigue and improved their stamina.
Wenger holds a Master in Economics from Strasbourg University and also a degree in Engineering. He can also speak English, French, German and can manage some Spanish, Italian and Japanese. This puts to light enough reasons as to how he can communicate so effectively with players from all over the world.
Wenger told his ex-wife Annie Brosterhous, a basketball player, "Five more years and that's all," when he joined Arsenal.
"33179 Arsènewenger" -- an asteroid is named after the Frenchman. It was discovered on 29 March, 1998 by Ian P. Griffin, who is a fan of Arsenal Football Club.
Famous quotes by Arsene Wenger
The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.
For me, motivation is a person who has the capability to recruit the resources he needs to achieve a goal.
Young players need freedom of expression to develop as creative players... they should be encouraged to try skills without fear of failure.
It's silly to work hard the whole week and then spoil it by not preparing properly before the game.
You cannot play for Arsenal and give up, no matter what the score is.
What next for Arsenal after Arsene Wenger?
It would be a big challenge when the day arrives that the manager leaves. A lot of work has been done on infrastructure in recent years which will help insulate us when we make that difficult transition. He confirmed there is a plan in place but we obviously do not talk about it publicly.
He reinforced the fact everyone is currently very positive about the direction and looking forward to the season.
- Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis told Express on Thursday.