This is going to be quite a long post, and about a person whom I hold in the highest esteem, so those who only intend on spouting garbage in response should simply stay away from this one…
66 years ago today, a person was born who would grow to become a legendary figure and household name in the beautiful game of football. Ever since taking over the reins of Arsenal Football Club, where he has completed 19 years in charge and is still going strong in his 20th, he changed the way football was played and practiced in England. He revolutionized the way the game was played by introducing his own, aesthetically pleasing style of play, showing others how to win and succeed while also playing the game with an element of beauty and finesse. Off the pitch, he completed transformed the way his players would train and the type of diets they had, an example which has since been followed by every single club in England at least, if not in other parts of Europe.
His tenure began with incredible success, when he became the first non-British manager to win the league title in England, and he rose even higher when he boldly predicted his team could even win the league without losing a single match. He was mocked and degraded by fans of other teams and media, until he did exactly as he had said, leading a team to 49 unbeaten league games in a row, and ensuring that the Invincibles would forever go down in football history.
Since then, he undertook the more challenging part of his time in charge of our great Club. He chose to remain at the helm and try to keep Arsenal among the elite while overseeing a move to a new stadium which left the club in massive debt. He succeeded again. Along with managing a couple of title challenges, he made sure that his teams never failed to be in the Champions League, even when sometimes the quality of the squads was not as high as he would want. And finally, in recent years, as the debts have been lessened and the financial restrictions on the club’s transfer activity alleviating a bit more, he has once again brought superstars to the club and won trophies again, becoming the joint-leading FA Cup winning manager along the way and making Arsenal the most successful in the history of the most famous domestic cup competition in the world, and he is now leading the team in what will hopefully be another successful season.
Even aside from his managerial prowess, he is a man of high ideals and values, and has earned the respect of other legendary figures of the game. Greats like Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff and many more have frequently expressed their admiration for him and the way he has led our Club. The respect he has earned also extends to players all over the world, and has been evident when some of the planet’s greatest footballers have joined us. Players such as Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez, and Petr Cech, have all said that they were convinced to come to Arsenal because of this one great man.
Even with all this being said, there are not enough words to truly show and describe the amount of work he has put in for Arsenal FC. He has made so many sacrifices, both personally and professionally, to ensure that the Club does not suffer. The media and fans try to make him the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong, but they rarely consider the bigger picture – that he has helped guide Arsenal into a financially healthy position based on a self-sustaining model, the only club in England and maybe among all of Europe’s elite to have done this without ending up in massive, exponentially increasing debt. Even if media and fans of other clubs don’t understand all this, at least our own fans should take a step back and look at the entire picture, including the state of Arsenal before his arrival.
Not one Arsenal fan should be ashamed of the trophy drought we experienced after moving from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. It was a small price to pay for being the foundation which will be discussed in the future as a turning point for the better for Arsenal. Anyone who thinks that was Arsenal’s worst period needs to look at what other clubs have had to go through, and realize that had it not been for one man, we may well have been floundering in mid-table. A legend made a decision which sacrificed his own career, and under his guidance, and because of his genius and sacrifice, we are still a top team, a Club that attracts and produces some of the best talents in the world, and we are led by a man whom all football fans should feel privileged to have seen work his magic.
In Arsene I will always trust. He has been my football idol for so long now, and I hope he has many more birthdays to come and many more successful years at our Club. His club. It has to be destiny that our longest-serving and greatest manager of all time has a name so similar to that of our Club. A true leader, the one who takes all the blame when anything goes wrong, and sits back to let his players enjoy the successes. Simply the greatest.
Arsene Wenger, wishing you a very, very happy 66th birthday. Le Professeur, you’ll always have my backing, my support, my gratitude and my trust. You are our greatest legend, and you always will be. The man who rejected more lucrative offers to stay with us, the ultimate philosopher, the Invincible one, the one who introduced Wengerball to the whole world and took everyone’s breath away, I will always look up to you.
Thank you so much for everything so far, and all the memories. We’ve made more good ones in recent times, let’s make even more.