Arsene Wenger is celebrating 20 years since he was unveiled as Arsenal manager back on 22 September 1996 when he replaced Bruce Rioch at the helm of the Gunners. Wenger joined from Japanese side Grampus Eight and officially took charge of the club on 1 October.
The Frenchman arrived in North London as a relative unknown despite having won the league and cup with Monaco in France. He also claimed the J-League Super Cup and the Emperor’s Cup during his time in Japan.
Assistant Pat Rice even cut a bemused figure at Wenger’s unveiling admitting he knew every little about the appointment that would transform the club.
“The first I knew was when we went to pick him up!” he said according to the Metro. “He just said to me, that as far as he was concerned, he wanted me to be his number two.”
Wenger was under no illusions as to the scale of the task that confronted him on arrival at the Gunners.
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“I think Arsenal is a club with big potential. I think that English football is going up and the Premiership is one of the most important leagues in the world now,” he said.
“So I think that is also was a challenge for me to be maybe the first foreign manager – and for sure the first Frenchman – to go there and try and be successful.”
Wenger quickly set about transforming the club and remains in north London 20 years later and after claiming three Premier League titles and six FA Cups. The Frenchman also oversaw the famous ‘Invincibles season’ in 2003-04 when the Gunners went unbeaten over the entire Premier League season.
The Arsenal boss remains the longest serving manager in English football and the nature of modern-day football suggest very few will even come close to 20 years in charge of a top football club.