By Chris Harris

Mathieu Flamini has gone from disaffected Arsenal player to France international in just six months, and no one is happier for him than Arsène Wenger.

The Arsenal manager admitted in April that Flamini may need to leave Emirates Stadium to get regular first-team football but the player chose to stay and fight for his place. Flamini's decision has been vindicated with a long run in the Arsenal side and a first senior cap for France.

The midfielder came on as a substitute against Morocco last Friday and, although he returned from international duty with a minor thigh injury, his late appearance at the Stade de France completed a dramatic turnaround in Flamini's fortunes. Wenger is certainly impressed by his compatriot.

"He got his first cap and we are all happy for him," he said. "Since the begin of the season you judge Flamini on performances and you cannot fault him on that. He has done a job in every area of his game, defensively, tactically as a team player, and we know as well he can turn up and score a goal.

"I tried to be fair with him [when he considered his future]. I could not stop him from leaving but told him if he stays, he knew the rules.

"We can only respect that mental strength and that character and to show on the pitch how good you are. It gives you confidence when you are 23 years old like Mathieu."

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Chris Harris 23 Nov 2007