Now that he can sit in the Emirates Stadium stands and be a supporter of Arsenal Football Club rather than our manager, Arsène Wenger is delighted that the progress we made thanks to his 22 years of devotion is continuing under the current regime.
Our legendary manager’s place in history was already assured thanks to the three league titles and seven FA Cups he claimed, but now it is truly set in stone - or rather bronze - after he was immortalised with a statue outside the stadium.
Sitting back in our iconic north London home his success and stability helped to build, he admits that when he looks at the upward trajectory we are currently enjoying on and off the field, he is filled with satisfaction and pride that the foundations he created continue to be used as the blueprint for success by familiar faces he has complete trust in.
“I worked for this club when I had the experience and capacity to look at the bigger picture,” he said after visiting his statue for the first time. “Many times I said I want to work and prepare this club to go even higher up after me, and I wish every day that happens now.
“I feel that the effort and the suffering was worth it. Now the club is in good hands; It’s in the hands of two ex-players in Mikel Arteta and Edu; I bought Edu when he was at Corinthians and Mikel Arteta from Everton, and they are guiding the club well. I can look at it in a relaxed way!
“I feel that Mikel is doing well, making the right decisions, and having an organised team who, for me, can now challenge for the championship. We did it last year, let’s get over the line this year.
“I’m confident because last year with eight games to go, I always felt we would do it. We invested again a lot this year and strengthened the squad well, so overall I’m very happy with the three signings. We have all the tools to do well and to challenge for the championship.”
Wednesday night saw Arsène return to Emirates Stadium for just the second time since he waved goodbye in May 2018, and he admits that over two decades of memories instantly hit him every time he steps through the doors of our home again.
That was the case again on Thursday when a special private lunch was held in his honour at the stadium, with former players, staff members and friends all invited to celebrate his tenure and legacy following last week’s statue installation.
Reflecting on what it feels like to return to somewhere so synonymous with him, he added: “It’s always very emotional because it’s like a film going through your head, you know? It’s very difficult to select the emotions because you are flooded by many emotional situations that you experienced before - on that front, it’s not easy.
“On the other hand, you are happy because you feel you are back home. Five years on I feel strongly attached and linked to the club. The attachment is unbelievably strong and it’s funny because it’s Arsène and Arsenal - it looks like my destiny.
“I’m less [stressed] but I still kick every ball. I look at the decisions made, the bad decisions and the good decisions as well, so the tension is still there, but it’s not comparable. I think if I were here every week, I’d be much more tense, but when I come back once in a while, I want as well to enjoy it, to see friends and get a good taste of the atmosphere here.”
Hear much more from Arsène, including what he said to our current squad after the Monaco game, as well as a special message for our supporters, by pressing play above.