By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger feels "grateful and privileged" to have worked alongside Pat Rice for so long.

The Arsenal legend will retire at the end of the season after a 44-year association with the Club as a player, a coach and, finally, as Wenger's assistant manager.

Rice has been by the Frenchman's side throughout some of Arsenal's most glorious triumphs and Wenger is sorry to see him go.

"It's difficult to measure his contribution, he has just been tremendous," said the manager. "It's sad because his life was linked with Arsenal and Arsenal was privileged to have him as a player, as a captain, as a coach.

"Personally of course I am very grateful for his contribution to my period here. I would like him to forgive me for the bad moments I have given him as well! He has been a constant, loyal supporter and I'm just very grateful and privileged to have had him at my side for such a long time.

"He has decided to stop because nervously it is becoming more difficult certainly as well. He deserves to have a good time now but he will remain in touch with us because he will still work for us at some stage - in scouting maybe - and as a supporter he will always be there."

Wenger arrived in English football in September 1996 and he says that Rice helped him to acclimatise to his new surroundings.

"It's important when you come from abroad to have an assistant who knows the culture of the club and the culture of the country," he said. "I always do that when I travel and I was privileged here because I was lucky.

"Pat knew Arsenal well and knew England well, English football too. Nobody is more of a fighter than Pat Rice, in every single game he is ready for a fight. He kicked me a few times during the games and I feel that in every single game he is ready to give absolutely everything - as a player or a coach - to win the game. And that is what you want."

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10 May 2012