If you’re a football fan, chances are that you know a lot about Arsene Wenger’s coaching styles and football philosophies. It’s also quite likely that you’re either a strong supporter of his ways, or very much of a non-believer.
However, there’s more in the man than the professor-like demeanour and conservative strategies. Check out these interesting facts about the gaffer of Arsenal, some are bound to surprise you.
1. Wenger holds a Master in Economics
He also earned a degree in Engineering. Moreover, he can speak English, French, German; and can manage some Spanish, Italian and Japanese. No wonder he’s called "The Professor".
2. As a player he tried to model himself on Franz Beckenbauer
Wenger however agreed that he was not as "elegant and classy" as his versatile hero. His professional football career started with RC Strasbourg in 1978 (against Monaco where he’d become a coach 10 years later). He played a handful of matches for them in that season, and eventually won Ligue 1 too. He even played once in the UEFA Cup, but that is about it.
3. It is Arsene who introduced George Weah to European football
A lot has been said about how Wenger brought an ignored Thierry Henry from Juventus to Arsenal and made him the great player as we know now. But few know that in 1988 he signed an unknown striker from Liberia, bringing Weah to Monaco, who would go on to become FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995.
4. Declined to become France national coach out of loyalty to Monaco, only to be sacked the next year
Wenger coached Monaco from 1987 to 1994, won Ligue 1 and the French Cup. In the 1994/95 season he was dismissed owing to a poor start. It is also rumoured that AC Milan once rejected him because "he looks too much like a schoolmaster".
5. He is a fan of the Japanese diet
In 1995/96 he became coach of J. League club Nagoya Grampus Eight and had a successful 18 month stint. Wenger praised the Japanese diet many times because "They eat only rice, boiled vegetables and fish; no sugar, no oil; that’s why you won’t see fat people there."
6. Allegedly threw a pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson
The famous, or infamous, "Pizzagate" occurred at Old Trafford on October 2004, where United ended Arsenal’s 49-games unbeaten run. The most popular interpretation of the post-match tunnel incident is that Wenger vented his anger by throwing a pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson. There is no denying however that he called Ruud van Nistelrooy a "cheat", and the 2007 Carling Cup final linesman a "liar"; those were on camera. The otherwise calm and solemn looking coach has confessed that he has "a very dark side".
7. Promised his wife "Five more years and that’s all" when he joined Arsenal
It looks like his basketball Olympian wife Annie has every right to get mad at him. Wenger tried a bit of peace-making though by teaching his daughter Lea to ride a bicycle some odd mornings. His family also had a Yorkshire terrier "Lilly", which died last year.
8. Visited Gael Clichy and Phillipe Senderos’ parents in their home to persuade their son to join Arsenal
A notable exception was Cesc Fabregas, where, rather than Arsene Wenger travelling, his parents flew down to London.
9. An asteroid is named after him
His other honours include receiving the Legion d’Honneur, the highest civilian honour in France, an honourary OBE for services to British football, and Arsenal fans celebrating Wenger’s Day on 22nd October 2005, his 56th birthday.
10. Wenger has a Myspace profle
And his interest is noted as "I am an open person so almost everything is an interest to me but top ranking is football".