TRIBUTES were paid to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday after he announced that he would be standing down at the end of the season.
It brings to an end his near 21-year reign at the club during which time he won 10 major trophies including three Premier League titles and a record breaking seven FA Cups.
His long-time rival Sir Alex Ferguson said Wenger was “one of the greatest Premier League managers.”
The former Manchester United manager said he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man."
The Frenchman arrived at Arsenal in September 1996 as something of an unknown quantity. However, he soon became a fans favourite after assembling a side that was capable of challenging for major honours.
He delivered the league and couple double twice, but one of his most remarkable achievements was to take the club on a stunning 49-match unbeaten run in 2003-2004, making Arsenal the first and only club to go a full Premier League season without loss.
Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams said: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert (Chapman), Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager."
Wenger is credited with revolutionising British football and discovering talent, including World Cup winners Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira.
Thierry Henry, whose career flourished under Wenger’s tutelage said: "His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams — (they talk about) how Arsene changed Arsenal."
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said that he had a great respect for Wenger and hopes that he doesn’t retire from the game altogether.
"I know what it means. Three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, and not just that. What he did in Japan, in France. What he brought to the French football.
"What he gave to Arsenal even in the period without Premier Leagues, all the transition of the club from stadium to stadium, everything he did."
League Managers Association chairman Howard Wilkinson said Wenger was “one of the most significant managers to have graced the game of professional football” in England.
"From his arrival at Arsenal, it was patently clear that here was someone with tremendous foresight, fortitude and imagination.
"A man of high principles, he was never prepared to compromise his beliefs and, in so doing, he enhanced the history and reputation of one of the world's great clubs," he said.
Labour leader and Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn thanked Wenger for all he had done for the community in North London and the inspiration he had given for young people to take up football.
“Thank you for the beautiful football and wonderful memories.
“And thank you for the example you have set in standing up to abuse and criticism, proving you are stronger than all your critics,” Mr Corbyn said.
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez dismissed early speculation from bookmakers linking him to the Arsenal job.
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