LONDON – Premier League managers and former players showered praise on Arsene Wenger on Friday after the Frenchman announced he was stepping down from the Arsenal hotseat at the end of the season.
The 68-year-old has won three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups during his near 22-year stint at Arsenal but recent seasons have seen rising discontent among the fans as the club have failed to challenge for the Premier League.
AFP Sport takes a look at who's saying what about Wenger's decision to leave the Gunners:
- Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville said Wenger deserved a fitting send-off after a glittering career.
“Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football,” he tweeted. “The '98 team was Amazing. The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them.”
- Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was “surprised” at the news.
“He was the dominating guy in mid-1990s, 2000s,” Klopp said at his Friday press conference. “It is different now because we have to challenge but in Germany he was a big role model,” added the German.
- Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, who was a key cog in the 1998 and 2002 double-winning sides, called on fans to remember the good times.
“Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send-off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies,” he tweeted.
- Arsenal's major shareholder Stan Kroenke, whose steadfast support of Wenger angered many fans, was unstinting in his praise for the Frenchman.
“Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record,” Kroenke said in a statement. “He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.”
- Arsenal great Bob Wilson, a member of the Gunners side that achieved the domestic double in the 1970/71 campaign -- said Wenger even outstripped Herbert Chapman in the list of the club's greatest managers.
“He is the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal football club,” Wilson told BBC radio. “He is above Herbert Chapman and all of the guys who won trophies. Arsene is not only the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history, he has personally changed the face of the game in this country.”