David Dein insists that Arsene Wenger still has the same hunger to win that he’s always had, which is why he’s finding it so hard to say goodbye to Arsenal football club.
Dein knew Wenger before he became Arsenal manager in 1996 and he’s know him since. The former vice-chairman was the man who got the Frenchman, who was unknown in England at the time, his job as coach.
Speaking to Yahoo recently, Dein continued to sing Wenger’s praises, despite the Gunners going through a bit of a wobbly patch this term.
The 74-year-old claims that Wenger is compulsively devoted to Arsenal, describing what he’s done for English football as ‘remarkable’ and the style in which the Gunners play as an ‘art form’ and ‘ballet’.
“We were friends for eight years before before (Wenger) became manager of Arsenal,” said Dein. “I happened to just coincidentally bump into him, I was passing through Highbury stadium.
“Arsene was just standing there in a long, French coat and his odd glasses on and he certainly didn’t look as if he was a football coach.
“I thought, ‘This guy’s unusual’. He had a University degree, he’d studied economics, studied a bit of medicine, he speaks four languages. You know, he’s not your average football manager.
“Here is a man who is so dedicated, so knowledgeable and intelligent that he really hit the ground running. He brought in a whole new dimension, a whole new way of thinking to the club. He changed all their diets, all their training methods; what they were eating and drinking.
“When we were developing our training ground, he was responsible right now to what the last tea cup was going to be like.
“He is absolutely, compulsively concerned, devoted to the club. That is his life. As a teacher, he gets so much satisfaction from seeing one of his protégé’s coming through from the youth team and the reserves team to the first team.
“He will make an average player into a good player, a good player into a very good player and a very good player into a world class player.
“What he’s done in English football is quite remarkable and he deserves an immense amount of credit. He’s still hungry, he’s still got that fire in his belly to win and that’s why it’s difficult for him to stop.
“But at some stage the time will come for him to hang up his whistle and his stop-watch, which are the first bits of kit he puts on every morning.
“It’s up to him, he will know when it’s time to give it up.
“Arsene is a football purist. He’s got a lovely expression. He calls it ‘possession with progression’. He loves the passing game, it’s a joy to watch. It’s an art form. It’s ballet.”
Dein obviously has the utmost respect for a man who many people no longer revere as they once did. Even former players talk about him in the press as if they’ve never met him.
While I, and most of us at Daily Cannon, do believe that Wenger’s time at Arsenal should come to an end and probably will soon, we have nothing but respect for a man who shaped the game as we know it today.
If you’ve got a spare two-and-a-half minutes, I really recommend watching the Yahoo interview with Dein in full. It’s wonderful to see someone’s eyes still light up when they talk about Le Professeur. It doesn’t happen much anymore.