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 “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.”

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