“I am in a job where you always look in front of you. Unfortunately, the older you get, the less distance there is in front of you.”
“When I retire, I will buy a season ticket, wear red and white, and hope Arsenal win on a Saturday”
– Arsène Wenger.
There has been a thunderstorm of tributes and people wanting to give their last appraisal of the manager since the announcement on Friday morning, which revealed he will be leaving after the season.
It seems like actually every person in the football sphere has contributed. And that speaks volumes to the impact Wenger had on them and the world of football.
Here is a fraction of what people have said.
Arsenal CEO, Ivan Gazidis, at the announcement:
“There’s a reason why there’s so much affection from so many players and people who have worked with Arsène… the reason is because he’s a special person.
“Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. … he is able to make people believe they can achieve great things on and beyond the football pitch. … And he’s done all of this while remaining true to his values and the values of this football club.
“Arsène often said his aim was to leave the club in a better position than when he found it and we are in a better place today than we could have ever imagined 22 years ago.”
Arsenal’s current captain, Per Mertesacker:
“Boss, just recently I was saying how much you influenced my career. You taught me how to be the best leader & captain. It’s an emotional day for us Gunners, you gave everything to the club & I’m so proud to be a part of your journey. My biggest thanks to you Arsène.”
“Passion, respect and success- that is what Arsene Wenger is all about. Thank u for what you’ve done for us at Arsenal and the football world. I’m grateful for everything you’ve taught me & all the trust you’ve put in me no matter how difficult the situation was. Merci Boss!”
“It’s an honour to have been able to work with you. You gave me the chance to evolve under your command and it was a real pleasure. Thanks to you I was able to grow as a footballer but especially as a man and for that I thank you… you can be proud of your career and everything you’ve accomplished. Thank you boss.”
“To the man who gave me my chance as a 16 year old, and showed unbeliveable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn’t. Thank you for everything boss! It’s down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger.”
“Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies boss”
“It has been an honour to play for you and win trophies with you. You have been a big influence in my life on and off the field from a boy to a man. I am so happy to see everyone showing gratitude and respect today because you more than deserve it. You changed English football and have done so much for the club. I am fortunate to have learnt from you and I thank you for everything Boss.”
“After the big news today it’s an opportunity for all the Gunners to show the love and appreciation to the man who created a huge part of the history and legacy of arsenal and hopefully will leave with another trophy in his hands! Up to all of us to make it happen. #COYG.”
“Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact”
“Congratulations on a remarkable career. I was a boy when I met you but your lessons and guidance have helped shape me into the man I am today and for that I’m eternally grateful. Thank you for everything you have done for the sport and me, it was an honour to play for you. All the best Boss!”
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my childhood dream comes true.A huge respect for your resilience and your full commitment to the Arsenal over these 22 years.I improved so much alongside you on and off the pitch thanks to your support and your trust over the years!”
“Truly saddened to hear the Boss is leaving. A great man who made an everlasting positive impact.The moral support& confidence you gave me, alongside your guidance& support helped me become the man I am today. A shining light on my darkest days. From the bottom of my heart, MERCI.”
“Arsène Wenger… What a man… What a mentor… I remember when I first came in the club, impressed, scared, and not even speaking proper English. He built confidence in me, made me believe in myself and pushed me as far as I possibly could. He’s always been a father figure to me and to so many young players throughout the years. I can’t thank him enough for his commitment at Arsenal. All hail Arsène Wenger!”
“Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert (Chapman), Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager. #arsenaltillhedies.”
“Big shoes for anyone to fill, playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players, influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club.”
“What a special man. He Built unbelievable squads that won with style and changed how we thought and played football.”
“The boss was always up for a laugh. I’m struggling to find the words to sum up the enormity of the work you have done for the club! The stature we now have is totally down to you. I thank you with the whole of my heart. God bless you boss.”
“It’s a sad day for me, to see the big man leaving the club. I didn’t expect it, it’s a weird one. I hope the fans go to the games and give him their full support. It’s finally good that we can focus and talk about his legacy.”
“Don’t name a stand after Wenger. They don’t need the money – Name the stadium after him. Even if it’s The Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium.”
Sir Alex Ferguson:
“I’m proud to have been a rival, a colleague, and a friend to such a great man.”
“What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he’s happy with the decision, I’m really happy and I hope he doesn’t retire from football.”
“Every year we have a meeting with 10 to 15 coaches. He’s a reference for all of us. Every time he speaks we listen to him. He brought a lot of things to football in general. Every time we’ve spoken together he supported me and gave me advice.”
“I have been talking well about him for a while. To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years… we are talking about one of the best managers in football history.”
“The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsene.
“It is because of what he has done – his vision, his respect for football.
“I wish him all the best in the future. I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience – Arsenal, UEFA, FIFA… I don’t know.
“It was a pleasure to compete against him here and at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”
“Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in England Football. The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played vs. them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.”
Arsenal fan and Olympic runner, Mo Farah:
“Thank you Wenger for everything you have done for us @Arsenal and for the memories. Sad to see you go.”
“Maybe this man will now get the respect he deserves for 22 years of bringing great players, great football and a rivalry for us @manchesterunited to the premiership. It’s now time to celebrate everything that Arsene to Arsenal football club.”
David Dein, long-time friend and former vice-chairman at Arsenal:
“He brought in a whole new dimension, a whole new thinking to the club. He changed all their diets, all their training methods, what they’re eating and thinking.
“When we were developing our training ground, he was responsible right down to the last tea cup, what it was going to be like.
“What he has done in English football is quite remarkable and he deserves an immense amount of credit.
“Arsène is a football purist, he’s got a lovely expression. He calls it possession with progression. He loves the passing game, and it’s a joy to watch. It’s an art form, it’s ballet.”
And finally, and bless you if you came this far, Arsène Wenger himself on Friday:
“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.
“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity.
“I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special.
“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high.
“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club.
“My love and support for ever.”
Also check out my interview and profile on James “Gunnerblog” McNicholas here.