Djourou – Why I loved playing under Wenger

Johan Djourou
Johan Djourou

Johan Djourou enjoyed a special relationship with Arsene Wenger.

Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, the defender revealed how our former manager’s honest approach helped him thrive.
"I loved him, first of all to have the chance to spend that time with him, for him to build me,” Djourou said. “He built many players but first of all he gave me the chance to express myself. I think what I liked about the boss was the way he handled every case, you would say it was similar but also so different.

"For example, he was always positive with me. Sometimes he would say, 'The situation might not be fair because you're in great shape and you're playing well but your time will come. You have to be patient because you're a bit younger.'
"I remember the time he took [me aside] before a meeting with the team and he said to me, 'I know you're ready, I see it, I cannot hide it anymore, you will play, not tomorrow but you will play.' All of the time he was very positive and very encouraging about the stuff that I was doing.
"I remember one season, we started it and I think Kolo was a bit down and we were playing against West Brom at home. We won 1-0 or 2-0 and I played a great game and I think the press were blowing up a little bit [about my performance] and then the next game at Fulham, Kolo was back in. He was telling me, 'It's not fair'. Sometimes football is like that and you have to accept it.
"You have a player like Kolo Toure who was a great player and like a big brother to me, we all know that at the end of the day when you're learning, you're impatient because you want to play.

"There is one thing as well when the coach has an idea of his defence, he has to go with it. You don't want to change it, you would like to have the defence together as much as possible. He told me that very honestly but he told me again, 'You deserve to play' so it was a very honest relationship."

Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing to 'In Lockdown' now on the following platforms:




See Full List

Fixtures & Results

UEFA Champions League
Ticket Info