Arsene Wenger celebrates his 65th birthday today! You probably already know that nor might you know some of most interesting facts about Arsene Wenger.
When Arsene Wenger first started his coaching career, he didn’t get much attention. The 65-year-old expert had a humble football career, playing only in French clubs before becoming a manager.
Today, many fans consider him one of the best managers in the world because of his management style and so many years spent at the Emirates. But, his adventures before joining Arsenal remain unknown even today for some football lovers.
Check out these interesting facts about Arsene Wenger, the Gunners boss, that football fans might not know. Some are bound to surprise you.
1. Arsene Wenger played mostly for amateur clubs.
Wenger was born in Strasbourg and raised in Duttlenheim. He was introduced to football by his father, the manager of the local village team.
When he started his career back in 1969, not everything was about the money. Firstly, he joined a third division side Mutzig, the club most famous for playing “best amateur football” in Alsace. Although he was an important member of the squad, Wenger had to wait a bit longer before turning professional.
He mostly played as a sweeper-defender in all of his clubs. Back in Mutzig, he developed a special relationship with Max Hild, the club’s manager. Since then, Hild persisted on bringing him to every club he has managed later on.
Only in his last three years as a footballer, the French expert started playing with professionals in RC Strasbourg who won the Ligue 1 title in 1978. He retired very soon after winning the league, at the age of 32.
2. Arsene Wenger holds a degree in Economics from Strasbourg University.
In 1971, he enroled at the Faculté des sciences économiques et de gestion (Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences) at the University of Strasbourg to read politics and economics after a brief stint in medicine. In 1973 he joined semi-professional club Mulhouse and balanced his football career with his education. Wenger completed an economics degree a year later.
Wenger spent the last two years of his playing career predominantly running RC Strasbourg’s reserve and youth team. He became conscious of the importance of speaking English and during his holidays enrolled on a three-week language course at Cambridge. Wenger also studied for his coaching badge at the Centre de ressources, d’expertise et de performance sportives (CREPS) in Strasbourg.
3. First job as manager
Wenger joined Ligue 2 (then called Division 2) club AS Cannes as assistant manager in 1983. A year later, through the recommendation by Aldo Platini (father of Michel Platini) he became manager of Nancy, who participated in Ligue 1. At the end of the 1984–85 season, his first as a manager, Nancy finished 12th in the league, three places higher than in the previous campaign. Later on, it wasn’t so good for the Frenchman as the club got relegated in the first season under him.
4. Coaching In Japan
In January 1995, Wenger joined Japanese J-League team Nagoya Grampus Eight. He hired former Valenciennes manager Boro Primorac, whom he had befriended in 1993, as his assistant. Wenger fully supported the Bosnian manager when he gave evidence against Marseille over match fixing. Primorac remained Wenger’s right-hand man in later years and, as of 2014, still holds the position.
Wenger enjoyed a successful 18-month stint with the club, as Nagoya Grampus won the national cup competition, the Emperor’s Cup, in his first season and he received the J-League Manager of the Year award in 1995. In his final season, Nagoya Grampus finished runners-up in the league. This was the team’s best position until 2010, when Wenger’s former protégé Dragan Stojković led the club to its first title.
5. Arsene Wenger knows six languages.
One of the most important things for the Arsenal manager is the knowledge of languages. While some managers barely speak two, Wenger knows six different languages – French, German, English, Spanish, Italian and some Japanese. No wonder he’s called “The Professor”.
6. “Arsène Who?”
Arsenal appointed Wenger as their Manager on 30 September 1996. He officially assumed the position the following day. Wenger was a close friend of club vice-chairman David Dein, whom he first met during a match between Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers in 1988. Although previously touted as a technical director of The Football Association (FA), Wenger was a relative unknown in English football; the Evening Standard greeted his appointment with the headline “Arsène Who?”.
7. Profitable Manager –
A survey in 2007 showed that Wenger is the only manager in England who made a profit from transfers. An example of his flair is Anelka, who signed for Arsenal for £500,000, but two years later he was sold to Real Madrid for £23.5 million.
8. “Pizzagate” with Sir Alex Ferguson
He is well known for his rivalry with former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson; beginning in 1997, the dispute reached its culmination in the “Pizzagate” incident at Old Trafford in October 2004. After Manchester United ended Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten Premier League run after being awarded a dubious penalty, a member of the Arsenal squad allegedly threw a pizza at the opposition in the tunnel. Wenger accused United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy of being “a cheat” in a post-match television interview, and was reprimanded with a £15,000 fine by the Football Association. Both managers later agreed to tone down their words, in an attempt to defuse the rivalry.
In his autobiography Ferguson wrote that the events of “Pizzagate” had “scrambled Arsène’s brain” and caused their relationship to break down for almost five years. By 2009 Wenger noted his rivalry with Ferguson had become “respectful,” as Arsenal had ceased competing with Manchester United for major honours.
9. Married to former Basketball player Annie Brosterhous.
Wenger is married to former basketball player Annie Brosterhous, with whom he has one daughter, Léa (born 1997), and lives in Totteridge, London. Wenger admitted that while joining Arsenal, he promised his wife that he would retire within five years. But even today, after more than a decade, Wenger is as busy as ever.
10. An Asteroid is named after Wenger.
33179 Arsènewenger is a main belt asteroid. The asteroid was discovered on March 29, 1998 by Ian P. Griffin, who is a fan of Arsenal Football Club. The asteroid was named after the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, and is believed to be the only asteroid named after a football manager.
In a time when football starts to rotate only around money, marketing strategies, promotion of players, we have to pay tribute to the great manager – Arsene Wenger. The beauty and grace that he wants to donate to football fans are priceless.