Arsène Wenger says he fell in love with Arsenal when he visited Highbury for the first time in 1989 during his time as Monaco manager.

The Frenchman arrived at the Gunners' spiritual home on his way back from a European Cup scouting mission in Turkey where he was checking up on Galatasaray.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against his former side, Wenger revealed how the chance visit indirectly led to him succeeding Bruce Rioch in 1996.

There was a fantastic atmosphere at Highbury. Even at that time I thought it would be great to be part of that

Arsène Wenger

“I remember the first time I visited Highbury, I was on my own and it was January 2, 1989,” Wenger told the Arsenal Magazine.

“I had been in Turkey two days earlier watching Monaco’s next opponents in the European Cup and I had to fly back on January 1, but I saw that in England they play football at that time of year so I decided to fly back from Ankara to France via London to watch a game first.

“I immediately thought that football in England was great. There was a fantastic atmosphere at Highbury and I just wondered ‘is everywhere like this? - even at that time I thought it would be great to be part of that.

“Obviously on that day I could never imagine that I would come back one day as manager, it was not even in my head. It was just a coincidence because on that day I first met [former vice-chairman] David Dein and from then on we developed a friendship.”

Arsène Wenger in his days at Monaco
Arsène Wenger in his days at Monaco

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Max Jones 23 Feb 2015