Press conference

‘I know what it’s like to be at my funeral!’

The press conference room at Emirates Stadium was packed on Sunday as the world’s media waited for Arsene Wenger to speak at length for the first time since announcing his departure.

The timing of the announcement, the range of emotions he’s experienced and his next move in football were all on the agenda.

Here’s the transcript:

on why it’s the right time to leave…
I made a statement. That is basically all in it. Overall, I don’t think it’s the moment to come out on that. I would like to focus, to keep the priorities right until the end of the season and focus on how well I can do until the end. I will speak about that a bit later in my life.

on whether he can sum up the range of emotions he’s gone through…
No, not really. It’s a mixed feeling. First of all I must say that I’m touched by all the praise I’ve got from all of English football and I’m grateful for having that experience in this country - that for me is very special. The football is special, the passion is special and you’ll find that nowhere else. I know that I will not get that anymore in my life. Of course that is absolutely special and the fact that I could see the development of the Premier League in 20 years is sensational. I hope that will last a very long time. After that I had the feeling a little bit [like this was similar to] my funeral because people speak about you and how you were, so it was little bit interesting on that front! I don’t need to die anymore because I know what it’s like [to be at my funeral]! That is quite interesting but I must say, apart from a little sense of humour, I would like to thank everybody who has been nice to me. It’s our job because I certainly got more praise than I deserved and maybe sometimes more criticism than I deserved. It has been difficult but also fantastic.

on when he knew he was leaving…
It’s not the moment to talk about that.

on what changed his mind over respecting his contract…
I just told you a few minutes ago that I would talk about that one day but it’s not the right moment.

on whether he will manage again in England…
If you’re speaking about emotions, that certainly would be for me emotionally difficult. I don’t know how well I will live without that so at the moment it’s difficult for me to say never. But at the minute I speak to you, I’m too attached to this club to say I would go anywhere else. It’s too difficult for me.

on whether it’s hit him that he will be leaving…
I will never completely leave this club, because my first look will always be for the result of Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached, but it’s difficult. You do not give 22 years of your life like that. I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week – not six or six and a half. Seven for 22 years! You cannot just walk away and say thank you very much and bye bye, it is absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened - it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge and that it will be difficult for me. But I had other difficulties in my life and I hope that I will get through this one as well.

on whether he hopes that his announcement has boosted the club…
I don’t know. The club needs to prepare for the future and the earlier and more settled it is, the better. You cannot come in on June 1 and say ‘look, we separate now’ and do what you want.

on whether he wants to retire or work elsewhere…
Maybe - I don’t know. It’s new for me. With Ferguson it was different, I agree with you. He’s still at the club though, he stayed at Manchester United.

on whether he wants to keep coaching or go upstairs…
Honestly, I can’t tell you much because I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say that you lied to us! I know I did that a few times, but I would like to be definite today! I don’t know how I’ll respond to that situation.

on what the club needs from the new manager…
Look, you take me and take a guy who’s much stronger in every strong point that I have!