Former Arsenal players pay tribute to departing manager Arsene Wenger

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Goal speaks exclusively to four ex-Arsenal players who played under the long-serving Frenchman following his resignation announcement

Arsene Wenger is leaving Arsenal after 22 years at the helm.

The Gunners boss will call time on his managerial career in north London at the end of the season where he won 10 major trophies in two decades.

Goal has spoken to four ex-Arsenal players to gauge their reaction on a monumental day in the history of Arsenal Football Club.


Lauren


"I think Wenger has been the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history. We have seen what he has done for the club and how he has transformed things, with the style of play and the way in which we won the league in the unbeaten season.

"He has been an amazing coach at that level. As a person, I always like to highlight the way he sees the world. When I joined Arsenal, there were players from everywhere. Within the squad there was a mix of players from Brazil, France, England and all over the world and he made us come together, which was amazing. That tells you what he is like as a person.

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"I think that when a manager as intelligent as Wenger makes the decision that now is the time to leave, it means he has been thinking about it for along time. Whether now is the right or wrong time, we don’t know. He’s the only one who knows why he has taken this decision at this moment in time. We have to give him big respect and credit because he has been a great manager and a fantastic coach in so many ways."


Emmanuel Eboue


"I saw this morning in the news that, at the end of the season, Wenger will leave Arsenal. It’s very difficult to hear that. When you used to play for Arsenal, an ex-player, and you know Wenger did a lot of good things for you. He took me in like his son. When you hear that kind of news it is very sad to hear that.

"I think it’s a big mistake for Wenger to leave the club. It’s going to be hard, sad and difficult for the club because he’s been there for over 20 years. I understand the fans because they want to win trophies. It’s normal for the fans to get upset about this because he didn’t bring a lot of trophies for the club since a long time ago.

"It’s good to win but it’s also good to help the team and to finish in the same position every season. The club play good football even if they don’t win any trophies so if another manager comes, will they have the same style as Wenger? I don't think so because Wenger is a very intelligent manager. Because of him Arsenal doesn’t have any problem in reaching the finals as we've seen with the FA Cup.

"Life is like that sometimes. Sometimes you’re in a good way, sometimes you’re in bad way. I support Arsene Wenger. I wish him to win the Europa League for the fans and secondly I wish him happy health. I hope before the end of the season Wenger will win the Europa League for Arsenal. I support him, I play for him, I played for Arsenal and God bless Arsenal.


Jeremie Aliadiere


"I spent quite a bit of time with him a few weeks ago. I was in his office just talking about football and all sorts and to be honest I never saw it coming. Knowing that he signed a two-year contract I didn’t expect him to stop after one year.

"The first time I met him as a 15-year-old I was so impressed and he was already such a big manager. The years just pass by and every year I think what a great manager he was. He gave me all these opportunities, winning trophies.

"I always had to push to leave and go to Middlesbrough as he didn’t want me to go. He always believed in me and always wanted me to stay. Even after I left he always kept in touch, always been there. When I got injured and needed someone to help me to get back fit he was the first one there to help for me. I feel a bit sad because he was Arsenal. Arsenal without him next season will be very hard to get used to.

"The fact that I came so young he had a bit of responsibility himself because I came when I was 16. He spoke to my parents and said ‘don’t worry, I will look after him’ to make sure everything worked out and stuff – to be honest it did. He did everything he could and that’s the thing that I will always go back to. When you compare him to other managers I can’t think of one example where he’s brought a player to Arsenal and let him down.

Arsenal Arsene Wenger

"Obviously you’ve got to make decisions as manager but he’s always believed in players who he’s brought to the club and given them chances and opportunities. Even when big injuries happened to me, Abou Diaby or Rosicky - players that had at tough time with injuries, he always gave us a new contract and believed in us. On top of being a great manager he’s a great man.

"Until you retire and stop playing you don’t realise what people are going to remember about you. I’m talking for myself as a player as well. I’ve always thought I’ve had good seasons, bad seasons, good clubs, bad clubs – most of the time when people are on your case like they have been with Arsene, it’s just time [that changes opinion].

"Now the fans will remember him for what a great manager he’s been for Arsenal. That is such a small detail of the 22 years he’s had at Arsenal. He's completely changed the club and time will make fans realise that."


Ryan Smith


"He’s made the club what it is today. There’s been a lot of disgruntled fans and unhappiness around recent years. To transition from the Invincibles to now where we haven’t won the league since 2004 is obviously a frustrating situation, but at the same time we can’t just choose to remember him for the recent years.

"He has helped to get the club where it is today. As a man, he has tremendous knowledge of the game. You look at his track record with the players he has moulded into world class stars, Vieira, Henry and so on. The guy is a genius.

"My personal experiences with him are that he gave me my debut. I have everything to be thankful for because without that debut I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. It's a sad time for me. It’s a decision some will be happy with and a lot people won’t. What I would urge is let’s not forget what he has done for this club.

"The new stadium is built off the success of the early years where he won the league and the double – I’m really sad to see him go."

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