On Friday morning, Arsene Wenger announced his decision to step down from Arsenal Football Club this summer, after almost 22 years in charge.
In a note on the Arsenal website, Wenger wrote: “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season.
“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.”
I have a few things to say to Arsene after the announcement:
Firstly, I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve given to Arsenal, and to my experience of football personally.
Thanks to you I travelled to Cardiff three times to watch us lift the FA Cup. I sat in the stands the day we completed a Premier League season unbeaten. I went to the club’s first ever Champions League final, then came home to a new stadium. After that, I watched us lift another three FA Cups, at Wembley this time.
I watched my club compete with some of the best in world football over the past two decades. In addition to just winning trophies though, you made me believe that a club can be about more than just the results on the pitch.
When you spoke at the Annual General Meeting this year, you talked about giving young players opportunities. You talked about winning in the right way, and keeping the traditions of the club intact. That really hit home, for me.
Ideally, I want a club and a manager where all of those things are considered just as important as winning matches or trophies, and you gave me that.
It’s one thing to talk about giving chances to academy players, or to put them in your squad on a matchday, but you helped show me that a manager could have a personal relationship with all of them as well.
You’ve proven time and again that management is more than just a job. You genuinely seem to care about your players, and defend them no matter what.
The club shows its class on and off the pitch constantly, making us proud to be associated with it, and that’s largely thanks to the way you worked to make it so.
I doubt we’ll ever see another managerial era at Arsenal like this one. You’re one of the biggest legends the club has ever seen (if not the biggest), and I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me and millions like me.
Thank you, Arsène.