'His attitude rubbed off on others'

To celebrate Martin Keown's birthday we pulled a classic piece from the defender's testimonial programme notes. Here Arsene Wenger discusses Keown's Arsenal career.

Martin was already at the club when I arrived, and I knew that I wouldn’t have to worry about the defence at Arsenal.

In fact when I took over we played with a back five, with Martin, Steve Bould and Tony Adams in the middle, with Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn on the flanks.

I had a fantastic defence already in place and I knew I wouldn’t need to replace any of them. In fact I had too many players because I wanted to revert to a back four. But Martin was a big part of it and remained so for the next eight years or so.


Martin Keown

Martin Keown


My first impressions of Martin were that he was a very committed player, but at the start I thought he lacked a bit of confidence in his technical ability. I thought that was strange because but Martin Keown is a lot better technically than most people think.

He has got a good technique and he’s also highly committed and very motivated. If I was to sum up Martin’s qualities I would say that he is a very sharp player, and has a very good, positive aggression. He’s got quick feet, is strong in the battle, very good in a one-on-one situation and just fantastic in the air.

He’s been at the top for 20 years now and the length of his career is down to an outstanding level of motivation. Just like those defenders I mentioned above, and David Seaman too, he has been able to go on at such a high level for so long because of the amazing levels of motivation he has.

Martin loves what he does, and he’s ready for the fight to win. It’s an attitude that rubs off on the younger players. For someone like Kolo Toure to come through while Martin still playing is ideal because he can learn so much from him.



Friday’s training session was probably Martin’s last for Arsenal Football Club. Before it I said to my players ‘look how he trains, look how he prepares,’ then you can understand what Martin is about. He gives everything whether it’s his last or his first training session. For me I have a huge amount of respect for that.

He has made a good living in football but I’m convinced that Martin deserved every penny he got - he worked so hard for his career.

It looks to me as though he has the necessary qualities to do well in a coaching role. He cares about people and tries to understand new aspects of the game. He has the ingredients, and from then it’s up to him.

He is an Arsenal man, he’s been here for more than ten years in two different spells, so maybe you will find him back here one day in a coaching role. I wish him all the very best for his testimonial and for the future.


Theo Walcott and Martin Keown

Theo Walcott and Martin Keown


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