Arsène Wenger paid fulsome tribute to David Dein at his first press conference after the vice-chairman's departure from Arsenal earlier this week.

The pair had a close relationship and worked in tandem to bring new players into the Club. Mr Dein departed on Wednesday and, at the manager's usual Friday meeting with the media, Wenger praised his contribution over the last decade

"We lost a man of class, intelligence, and competence who has contributed highly to the success and the development of the club," he said.

"It is a big disappointment and a big loss. But David always had in his heart the best interests of Arsenal Football Club.

"I feel even if I am very sad that I am faithful to what we have built together. It is important that we keep the best interests of the club in his mind and especially my mind and focus on the future.

"We have built a team together starting from scratch again with many young players and I want to develop this team and go as high as we can together.

"I do not want to talk about the speculation [surrounding this]. We have a big game on Saturday and it is important that we keep the focus on that and get a victory for David and us."

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20 Apr 2007