Sir Chips Keswick has hailed Arsène Wenger for giving the club “new character… pride and self-esteem” during his time in charge.

The Frenchman will take control of his 1,000th game as Arsenal manager when his side travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea on Saturday.

Club chairman Sir Chips presented Wenger with a special award at the training ground on Friday to mark the achievement, and praised his impact.

I think he's given it new character, he's given it a new sense of purpose and most of all he's given it pride and self-esteem

Sir Chips Keswick

“I think more important than the number is what he's done for Arsenal and actually for world football,” Sir Chips told Arsenal Player. “He has made it back into the beautiful game, which it's often called but seldom achieved.

“I think that is the great achievement of Arsène. It's his wonderful contribution to the style and flow and charm of his football teams.

“What other things he has done for Arsenal Football Club - well, I think he's given it new character, he's given it a new sense of purpose and most of all he's given it pride and self-esteem. [This] is a rather underestimated commodity in some people but it's to be admired and not denigrated.

“I think that's what Arsène's done, he's lifted everybody up. Whatever he touches has got better and for that we're all very grateful.”

Sir Chips reserved special praise for Wenger as a man, rather than simply as the club’s manager.

“He's obviously absolutely dedicated to football, he's dedicated to his football team, he's fiercely loyal to his players,” he said. “He makes it fun for everybody but always mind your eye if you're not onside.

“I admire his dedication, I admire his commitment and I admire his leadership qualities. I really can't say it more strongly than that.

“Arsène's great strength is he can ride the rough and take the smooth. He doesn't seem to get big-headed when things are going well, he's obviously concerned when they are going badly but he can cope.

“He's a rounded person and a leader which is what you need as a manager of a football club.”

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Rob Kelly 21 Mar 2014