Childhood & Early Life
Arsène Wenger was born in Strasbourg, France, on October 22, 1949, to Alphonse and Louise Wenger. He grew up in Duttlenheim, a village located ten miles south-west of Strasbourg. He was the youngest of the three children in the family. His father, Alphonse, was a Second World War veteran and was forced to fight for Nazi Germany like many Alsatians. He fought for Germany on the Eastern Front in October 1944.
Once the World War was over, Alphonse started his very own automobile spare-parts business and a bistro. He managed a football team in his village, too. He was a football enthusiast, and his love for the sport was inherited by Arsène. Arsène grew up playing football with his father and learned the tips and tricks of the game from him. The family was financially unstable, and that posed quite a lot of trouble when Arsene wished to move ahead with his dream of becoming a footballer.
Arsène was introduced to football by his father when he was 6 years old, and by the time he was 12, he had joined ‘FC Duttlenheim,’ but due to a lack of young footballers in the village, the ages of the players were uneven. This created a lot of difficulties for the team. At the age of 16, he made it to ‘FC Duttlenheim’s first team, but the lack of a manager and a coach had Arsène training himself.
In the early 1970s, while studying at the ‘University of Strasbourg,’ Arsène joined a semi-professional club named ‘Mulhouse.’ In 1974, he completed his degree in economics and started representing the national French students’ squad. His stint with ‘Mulhouse,’ where he worked closely with the coach Paul Frantz, transformed him completely. Paul taught him the importance of diet and nutrition. He also taught him the importance of working on a player’s strong and weak points. After playing for a few more years, Arsène finally got his manager’s diploma from Paris in 1981.
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In 1983, he started working as the assistant of the manager Jean-Marc Guillou who was working with the ‘Ligue 2’ club ‘Cannes.’ There, he learned how to use information regarding the opposition team’s players and their strengths and weaknesses to his benefit. This helped ‘Cannes’ perform brilliantly in the ‘Ligue 2.’ Arsène’s hard work with the team did not go unnoticed, and he was soon chosen as the manager of another French club ‘Nancy.’
Arsène took on the challenge of managing a ‘Ligue 1’ team that was not performing well. The team lacked good players and effective management and was on the verge of being disqualified from the ‘Ligue 1.’ In his first season with the club, Arsène managed to work hard enough to make the team reach the 12th spot in the final tally, which was a respectable position. However, the team had a lot of problems, the most prominent of them being scarcity of funds. This led the team to a demotion from ‘Ligue 1’ to ‘Ligue 2’ during Arsène’s final season with the club.
Arsène quit ‘Nancy’ and joined ‘AS Monaco’ in 1987. With his guidance, the team performed well and emerged as one of the strongest teams in the league. In the 1988–1989 season, the club reached the finals of the ‘Coupe de France,’ where they lost to ‘Marseille.’
The next season, ‘Monaco defeated the champion ‘Marseille’ to win the ‘Coupe de France’ trophy. As his work gained more prominence, the ace German club ‘Bayern Munich’ offered him the role of the manager, but ‘Monaco’ refused to let him go. In 1994, however, he was sacked by ‘Monaco,’ following the team’s poor performance in the early months of the 1994–1995 season. French football was going through a troublesome time around the same time, owing to the match-fixing allegations against ‘Marseille.’ Observing the downfall of morale in French football, Arsène decided to leave France.
In December 1994, Arsène agreed to manage the Japanese club ‘Nagoya Grampus Eight.’ The team was at its worst and had performed abysmally in the previous ‘J. League’ season. Arsène’s unconventional tactics helped ‘Nagoya’ win 17 of the 27 games in ‘J. League’ the next season and finish as the runners-up in the 1995 ‘J. League.’ The team then won the ‘Emperor’s Cup’ in 1996.
Arsène had transformed the team. His performance did not remain unnoticed. Midway through the 1996–1997 season, Arsène joined the ‘EPL’ team ‘Arsenal.’ This was officially confirmed in September 1996. ‘Arsenal’ had become one of the weakest ‘Premier League’ teams by then. However, in 1998, ‘Arsenal’ surprised everybody with their ‘FA Cup’ victory. This was highly unprecedented. In the following few years, the team displayed a lukewarm performance, but people noticed a significant change in the way they played.
Arsène’s tactics were unique. He paid special attention to the team’s diet and nutrition, along with their teamwork on the field. He also believed in letting the players work on their strengths. Despite being criticized, his tactics worked. He was later dubbed as “The Professor” by the British media. In the 2000s, ‘Arsenal’ managed to maintain its place among the top 5 teams in the league rankings. They became the ‘Premier League’ champions in the 2001–2002 season and won it again in the 2003–2004 season.
In the 2003–2004 season, the club emerged victorious in the league without losing a single game. Arsène then decided to transform the team by making a few controversial decisions about the team’s structure. He let some key players go and brought in some new and inexperienced players. However, every tactic of his seemed to work well. He is now known as one of the greatest football managers of all time.
On April 20, 2018, Arsène announced that he would quit ‘Arsenal’ at the end of the season.
Arsène Wenger was in a long-term relationship with former basketball player Annie Brosterhous, with whom he had a daughter, Lea, in 1997. The couple got married in 2010. However, they separated in 2015, amid rumors of Arsène dating another woman.
Apart from being a well-known football manager, Arsène also happens to be the brand ambassador for ‘Castrol,’ the official sponsors of the ‘FIFA World Cup.’
In 2010, Arsène was rumored to be dating a French singer. Following this, Arsène urged the media to keep their noses out of his private life.