Arsène Wenger is one of the biggest managers in the history of football. He had a great impact on English football and he's the longest serving manager of the Premier League. So, let's find out about Arsène Wenger’s biography.
is now considered the top football league in the world, but when Arsène Wenger took charge ofArsenal
, it wasn't the best. Arsène Wenger was on numerous records with the "first non British manager" label.
In 22 years of being Arsenal's boss, Arsène Wenger redefined the principles of running a sport club. His legacy is more than just glorious trophies and titles because he changed the way of playing football into a more pleasant form. In the mid 90s, the French man stepped into Britain with fresh ideas. He achieved more than any other manager except for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Arsène Wenger was not a top notch player, yet he won several titles during his playing career. It was the managing career that showed everyone his great potential. He had a specific philosophy of football, as he once mentioned "Football is an art, like dancing is an art — but only when it's well done does it become an art". From his artistic point of view of football, playing in the best form was more important than winning the titles.
In 2004, his squad of ballet dancers crushed all the Premier League opponents and won the title unbeaten. This indicates that attacking style beauty could be a beast if performed correctly.
He was in four teams, both as a manager and as a player. The most important part of Arsène Wenger's career was being Arsenal's boss. His tall height and excellent speeches are the most recognizable factors in the first impression. Read on to find out more about
Arsène Wenger biography
Full name: Arsène Charles Ernest Wenger
Nickname: "Le Professeur" (The Teacher), "Petit" (Petite)
Profession: Professional Football Player and Manager
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight: 75 kg
Eye Color: Blue
Hair Color: Grey
Playing Position: Midfielder, Defender, Centre-Back
Professional Debut: the 1973-74 season as player, 1984-85 season
Date of birth: 22 October 1949 (1949-10-22)
Place of birth: Strasbourg, France
Wife: Annie Brosterhous (m. 2010–2015)
Father: Alphonse Wenger
Mother: Louise Wenger
Sibling: Guy Wenger
Children: Léa Wenger
Religion: Roman Catholic
Arsène Wenger life story
began on October 22, 1949 in Strasbourg, Alsace. He was raised in a family of five.
Arsène Wenger childhood
passed in Duppigheim, near the German border. It was slightly after the second world war and the war's after effects were still on. Besides being a good student, he had his own hobby after he was introduced to football at the age of six. His father was the village team’s coach, but Arsène Wenger's favorite team was Borussia Mönchengladbach.
In Duttlenheim, his family ran a bistro that was a perfect place for Arsène to meet football fans. He tried to fit in the Duttlenheim team alongside for the local games, but his physical attributes were hindering him to be a key player. Instead, he had a good vision and tactical mind for team players. Eventually, Arsène Wenger became the boss of the team rather than a player. In 1969, he joined Mutzig in the third division, but he couldn't find a way to the first squad.
He spent most of his spare time studying football and even going on trips to watchBundesliga
matches in Germany. Arsène Wenger took his studies about politics and economics and simultaneously joined semi-professional club Mulhouse to balance his education and football love. Mulhouse manager Paul Frantz became Arsène Wenger's mentor. Paul Frantz used scientific methods in his management and emphasized body building in physical training. Arsène Wenger's belief in isometric exercise and nutrition diet was influenced by him.
Mulhouse defeatedAS Nancy
and escaped relegation but Paul Frantz's resignation led to Arsène Wenger's departure. Former Mutzig manager, Max Hild, encouraged Wenger to join ASPV Strasbourg. Wenger became the right hand of Hild on the field and they were successful in the promotion to France third division. In 1978, Wenger and Hild joined RC Strasbourg, where Wenger made his debut for the first team againstMSV Duisburg
in the UEFA Cup as a sweeper.
Within a month, Wenger played againstAS Monaco
and at the end of the season, RC Strasbourg won the French league title. Wenger decided to spend more time training the reserve and youth team rather than playing for the senior team. He took English and coaching courses to improve his skills. Wenger got his coaching diploma in 1981 and he retired as a player and became a full time manager.
Talking about Arsène Wenger biography, it should be mentioned that in 1983, Wenger took Cannes assistant manager position in Ligue 2. His professionalism was already spread around and one year later, Wenger received an offer from Aldo Platini, father of famous Michel Platini. Platini's offer was manager role of Nancy inLigue 1
and Wenger accepted the challenge. Nancy was struggling to sustain in the top flight and Wenger found it difficult to run with his perfectionism. Nancy was far away from the Michel Platini era.
Wenger had three seasons in Nancy and their best results were in the first one. They finished eleventh in the first season and in the next two seasons they ended up in the relegation zone and at last, they relegated. Despite a lack of results, Wenger's efforts were not unnoticed. Monaco came up with a deal for Wenger and he accepted this bigger challenge. Monaco is one of the biggest French clubs and they had fewer economic problems than Nancy.
Monaco was a perfect place for Wenger. He succeeds Ștefan Kovács who was himself, Rinus Michels successor. Michels and later Kovács were expanding a very special football philosophy of football called Total Football. This brand new tactical management was were suitable for Wenger's ideas. In the debut season, they won the League title and became a regular title race. One of his specialties was scouting talents and efficient transfers. Youri Djorkaeff and George Weah were just two of many perfect sign-ins of Wenger.
His youth squad was important for him, where football legends like Lilian Thuram and Thierry Henry developed their football skills. Despite the team's consistent good form, they only won another title in Coupe de France. Wenger occasionally pointed out the corruption in football. In 1994, one of their main rivals,Marseille
, was accused of match fixing charges and found guilty. Wenger was mad at the French football atmosphere at this point and German giantBayern Munich
wanted him, but Monaco executives didn't let him go. Wenger didn't want to stay and that was obvious from the poor results, so eventually Monaco released him.
Wenger traveled to Asia and participated in a series of conferences held by FIFA. He was in charge of analyzing the 1994 World Cup. Japanese clubNagoya Grampus Eight
was attracted to Arsène Wenger and after a long negotiation, he took the job and flew to Japan. His start was not as good as expected, so he started to use psychological methods to improve the morale of his team. Arsène Wenger led Grampus to the Emperor's Cup and a runner up finish in theJ. League
, the club's best finish. It was time for Arsène to find his true home in London, of course.
George Graham had a marvelous spell in Arsenal and Bruce Rioch showed no signs of his successor. The club dreamt about Johan Cruyff as the successful manager in Total Football style, but he was unavailable. Despite the big sign in Dennis Bergkamp fromInter Milan
in 1995–96 season, they finished fifth. After a short delay, Wenger took the manager position in the London club and became the highest paid manager in Arsenal's history.
Wenger's sign-ins where already in the squad when he arrived. Rémi Garde joined Arsenal from familiar club RC Strasbourg and 20 years old Patrick Vieira fromAC Milan
. In the winter window, he transferred 17 years old Nicolas Anelka fromParis Saint-Germain
to an alternative for the experienced Arsenal legend Ian Wright. Wright and Bergkamp forged a good partnership in the front line and Vieira very fast became a crucial player. They finished third in Wenger's debut season on tie withNewcastle
in second place andLiverpool
on third by goal difference, whileManchester United
under Sir Alex Ferguson was firmly the champion. In the UEFA Cup, Wenger was defeated by his favoriteBorussia Mönchengladbach
Next season was Wenger's first full season in Arsenal. He signed three of his proteges from Monaco including Emmanuel Petit and another Dutch star, Marc Overmars fromAjax
. They were many points behind the reigning Manchester United, but from January 31, 1998, they tuned up. They were unbeaten for 14 consecutive matches and won 13 of them, including the away victory in Old Trafford against Manchester United. This winning streak caused the league championship. They also won the FA Cup by defeating Newcastle in the final to complete the domestic double titles.
In the next season, he had one of the most iconic transfers of his, by signing Freddie Ljungberg, the Swedish striker, after seeing his performance in the match against England. Ljungberg scored a goal in his debut match against the rival Manchester United and Arsenal gained a precious 3–0 victory. At the end, they lost the title race by one point to United. After the departure of Ian Wright, Anelka was the team's top striker.
Another season passed and once again they couldn't stop Manchester United from winning the Premier League, but the season had some very good points for Arsenal. Anelka decided to leave England andReal Madrid
paid a notable £23.5 million for him and Davor Suker instead left Real and joined Arsenal for £3.5 million. At this point, nobody knew Anelka's replacement wasn't Suker. It was Thierry Henry who joined Arsenal fromJuventus
. Arsène Wenger made a perfect striker out of Henry and he became one of the best players football has ever seen.
Manchester United celebrated the third back to back championship while Arsenal was stuck in the second place. Wenger sold Overmars and Petit toBarcelona
for £30 million in combination and Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord were the notable arrivals both from France. After three years of being the runner-up, in 2001–02, Arsenal won the double titles again, finishing ten points above Manchester United on the table. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kolo Touré were the notable sign-ins of Wenger that season. But the transfer of Sol Campbell from the city rivalTottenham
was the biggest topic at the time.
The next season was United's turn for championship and the Premier League was completely bipolar. Wenger was constantly scouting players around the world and his last found treasure was Gilberto Silva. The next thing you do is to give Jens Lehmann, Cesc Fabregas, José Antonio Reyes, and Robin van Persie to Arsène Wenger and then he gives you an Invincible team. In the 2003–04 season, Arsenal finished the Premier League unbeaten and received a golden trophy for this achievement.
The next year was neither Arsène Wenger's year nor Sir Alex Ferguson's. It was the year of the young Jose Mourinho, the new manager ofChelsea
. Chelsea defended their title in the next season and Arsenal downgraded to fourth place. Arsenal was building a new stadium and was short on money to spend in the transfer market. Team's captain Patrick Vieira left and joined Juventus. Arsène Wenger was scouting talents while Chelsea, with their new owner spending tons of money in the market. In the second season of rising the new Chelsea, Arsenal managed to reach the UEFA Champions League final unbeaten. They defeated Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout phase.
In the final, they faced Barcelona and despite Jens Lehmann being sent off in the first half, they opened Barcelona's goal, but goals from Eto'o and Belletti didn't let them win their first Champions League title. In the Premier League, their place was overtaken by Chelsea and they often finished in fourth place. Because of the financial situation of the club, their stars, one by one, departed the team and unknown young talents were supposed to fill their place.
By Wenger's management and efficient policies, Arsenal was always between the top four teams of the Premier League without spending much money. The new stadium was ready, but the team was far away from title winning quality. Arsenal fans were disappointed in the third-fourth ranking of the team every season, even after the move to new stadium. In 2013–14 season, Wenger finally got a big transfer for Arsenal and that was Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for £42.5 million. It wasn't enough to turn the page for Arsenal. Arsène Wenger added another star to the squad next season and he was Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.
Despite the great form of the new stars, the title race became tough and tougher day to day.Manchester City
, Liverpool, Chelsea, and of course, Manchester United were competing for the title. In the 2015–16 season, Wenger had a good chance to win the league for the last time. Manchester United was recovering from Ferguson's departure and Jürgen Klopp was adapting with English football. Everything was ready for Wenger, but miracle happened.
In one of the most surprising championships in football history,Leicester City
won the league title. After that, even the regular fourth place was out of hand. They finished fifth and sixth and even transferring the top star, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, couldn't help it. After more than two decades of quality football and passion, Wenger announced his departure on April 20, 2018. There were rumors about Wenger's next team, but he retired from management and now he has joined the board of FIFA to be the Chief of Global Football Development.
Arsène Wenger's religion
is Catholic. He grew up learning French and German, but later he learned English, Italian and Spanish to help his career. Also, he has a working knowledge of Japanese from his managing in Nagoya.
Arsène Wenger's wife
was a former basketball player, Annie Brosterhous, and they legally separated in 2015. They have a daughter named Lea, who was born in 1997. In 2010, there was an article in a British newspaper that he had an affair with a French singer. Wenger appealed for privacy and said in a statement that he wished to deal with it privately.
He has written a book on football management for the Japanese market, The Spirit of Conquest, in 1997 and he highlighted his philosophy, ideas, and values, as well as his thoughts on Japanese football. In 2020, his second book was translated to English from French. The title is My Life in Red and White: My Autobiography and he explained that since retirement from Arsenal he is employed by the World Football Authority, “FIFA made me an offer, that I accepted because it is a new challenge.”
In the last part of Arsène Wenger biography, let's review some of his awards and honors. As a player, Arsène Wenger's honors and awards aren’t much because he only played in 147 games. He won the Alsace cup three times, with AS Mutzig in 1971, Vauban in 1977, and Strasbourg in 1980. Also, in the 1978–79 season, he managed to win the Division 1 title with Strasbourg.
In his one year of managing in Japan, he won the J. league manager of the year award in 1995. After that, all of his awards and orders are from his time in Arsenal. In 1998, he won the world manager of the year award and as a member of the English football hall of fame (since 2006), he has won the premier league manager of the season three times, 1997–98, 2001–02, and the 2003–04 season. In the rankings of France football managers, he was the 32nd and in 2013 he was titled as the world soccer 36th greatest manager of all time. For four years, he got the Onze d’Or coach of the year awards.
IFFHS has named him the world coach of the decade. Among his many other titles, in 2003 he got the OBE honorary officer title and from France, in 2002 he was named the Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur.