Speaking to L’Équipe, former Arsenal director David Dein discussed the French manager on the occasion that Wenger celebrates 20 years in the manager’s job with the North London outfit. Highlights.
On Wenger & Football:
Arsène knows every player in the world. He is a living encyclopaedia. He lives only for football.
On Wenger’s birthday:
On the 22nd October, Arsène will celebrate his 67th birthday. I am scratching my head for an idea of what to give him. He does not need anything, he spends nothing. He has a nice car, but he does not indulge himself. It will be a very good deal when he sells it. I have finally figured it out, I will install a more powerful satellite antenna on his roof, that way, he will have access to more channels and will be able to watch a few more matches.
On when Dein & Wenger first met:
Our meeting? It was fortuitous. We are in 1989. Arsène, who is the Monaco manager, comes to watch an Arsenal game at Highbury. I run into him in one of the club’s executive rooms. We introduce ourselves to each other.
The connection was immediate. I suggested to him that he should come to dinner with me at some friends’s. To my great surprise, he accepts… My destiny, Arsène’s destiny, Arsenal’s destiny but also English football’s destiny was set that evening… The reason why 75% of managers in the Premier League are foreign are because there was a pioneer.
On when Wenger was in Japan:
Every week I would send him VHS tapes of our matches. When he joined us a year later, he knew everything about our game.
On Wenger the manager:
Arsène is not your typical manager. Apart from being passionate, intelligent, with integrity. He is an idealist. Nobody wants to win more than he does, but he wants to do it with style. He will never jeopardise his values. Behind the manager, there is the educator. Not one player has passed through Arsenal without improving. Arsène improves men.
On Wenger & losing:
After a loss, it is not necessarily a good idea to have dinner with Arsène. He rehashes frustration. He hates losing.