Patrick Vieira

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Gilberto - The attributes that made Vieira a great

They were the bedrock of our 2003/04 Invincibles, so it’s no surprise to learn that Gilberto loved playing alongside Patrick Vieira.

The duo were widely regarded as one of the finest central-midfield pairings in world football - but what was the secret to their success? 

“Patrick was a real leader - on the pitch, outside the pitch,” Gilberto told Arsenal Player. “Apart from that, he’s a very nice guy who everyone wants to cooperate with. He was always very helpful. 

“On the pitch, you could trust him. Any time he was there, we knew that it would be much easier for us in the middle. It was a great partnership, me and him, because the understanding about the way we played, the way we managed the game, was very easy. 

“It seemed like we’d known each other for a long time. It was simple - when he went, I stayed, and the same the other way. I learnt a lot from the partnership with him. It was something very unique in my career.”

Interview

Wenger - When Vieira first caught my eye

Arsene Wenger and Patrick Vieira

When Arsène Wenger first spotted Patrick Vieira, he knew that the Frenchman would go on to become a world-class footballer.

Wenger was in charge of Monaco at the time and after seeing the 17-year-old midfielder make the experienced Claude Puel “look weak”, he did everything he could to secure Vieira’s signature.

“Claude was a fighter defensively,” he told Arsenal.com. “So after the game I went straight away to ask the manager of Caen, who is this guy? And I told him straight away this guy would make a big career, and very quickly he made a move to Milan.

“In Milan he didn’t play and Milan made him available. I was in Japan and straight away said look, we have to buy this player! I think what is fantastic is because that was 96, and since 96 everybody in the Premier League looks for a Patrick Vieira. That’s the best tribute that you can give to Patrick.

“He had the charisma as a player, on the pitch but as well off the pitch and overall he was not scared of anybody. You could go with Patrick Vieira to Sheffield United on a Tuesday night in November and he could turn up and fight like mad.

“He was a fighter, he was a fantastic football player and as well, I don’t think he was the same type of captain as Tony Adams, who was a more vocal leader. He was more of a guy who through the quality of his attitude and the quality of his game, became a natural leader in the side.”

Interview

'That front six was as good as you’ll find'

Arsene Wenger’s first full season with us was almost as good as it gets for a football fan.

Eight straight wins sealed the league title in style, and we completed the double by outclassing Newcastle in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
 
From Dennis Bergkamp to Marc Overmars and Patrick Vieira to Emmanuel Petit, our 1998 vintage had silk and steel. Plus a talent-spotting manager who gave us an extra edge.
 
“It was a great team,” Steve Bould told Arsenal.com. “That front six was as good as you’ll find.
 
“The boss brought in Overmars when he was injured and nobody believed he’d be the player that he was. And Christopher Wreh… he won us the cup.”
 
Tony Adams agrees. “Incredible,” he said. “Arsene knew the French market didn’t he? He got the best players out of that market at that time. Nicolas Anelka and even people like Gilles Grimandi who did a job for us.
 
“Plus Emmanuel Petit, and Patrick of course, he’s the obvious one.”

01:44

A Day In Time: May 16, 1998

Merci Arsene

Ranked list: Arsène Wenger’s greatest centurions

Arsène Wenger

Sixty one players have made more than 100 appearances for us under Arsène Wenger.

So naturally we’ve compiled all of those stars into one list, so you can let us know who the boss’ greatest centurion is. 

All you need to do is scroll down the list below and simply upvote the players you would like to see higher up the rankings.