Arsene Wenger Keynote Speaker
- Arsenal FC's longest serving and most successful manager
- First manager to win an unbeaten Premier League title in 115 years
- Chief of Global Football Development at FIFA
Arsene Wenger is one of the most celebrated football managers in the modern history of the game. He is best known for his time at Arsenal FC where he led the club to multiple domestic titles, including a league campaign where they became the first team to go unbeaten in 115 years.
Arsene Wenger began his playing career in his native France as a midfielder in the lower leagues of the football pyramid. He juggled academic studies alongside this, completing a degree in economics at the University of Stasbourg. Even at this early stage of his career, Wenger’s interests turned to management rather than playing. By his late twenties, Wenger was managing the youth and reserve teams at his local club, RC Strausborg.
His early career in management was impressive and caught the attention of some of France’s top clubs. Eventually, he was appointed manager of AS Monaco. Further success followed but, several later years later, they parted ways. Consequently, Wenger decided to pursue his next challenge in a developing football nation, Japan. There, he won J League Manager of the Year and guided the club, Nagoya Grampus Eight, to their first silverware.
Arsenal FC, one of England’s most prestigious clubs, had been tracking Wenger’s progress. They appointed him as manager in 1996. Wenger was relatively unknown in England and was treated disrepectfully by sections of the press. ‘Arsene who?’ was mockingly asked by the Independent.
Wenger’s first action was to set about changing the drinking culture at the club. He believed outdated diet and nutrition was leaving English football behind its European counterparts. Although this caused an initial stir, the players soon adjusted to new requirements as fitness and results improved. These new methods would become widely adopted across English football and Wenger is still credited with instigating this revolution.
Silverware soon followed. In 1998, Arsenal won both domestic trophies – the Premier League and FA Cup. Wenger became the first foreign manager to complete this domestic double. Another double followed four years later. Wenger’s most celebrated season came in the 2003-2004 campaign. His Arsenal side won the league again, without losing a single game. They became the first team to do this since Preston North End in 1889 and the first team to do so over a 38 game season (Preston played 27 games).
However, it would be Arsenal’s last league title of his reign. Foreign buyers at Chelsea FC and Manchester City pumped money into the clubs and they both became new competitors. Simulataneously, Arsenal’s finances were squeezed as money was diverted to building their new 60,000 capacity stadium. Wenger still went on to win the FA Cup four more times in 2005, 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018 as the club’s longest serving and most succesful manager of all time. He is known as ‘Le Professeur’ for his studious and innovative approach to the game. He is currently FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development.