Arsene Wenger: One-on-One

You’re clearly a very intelligent man who could have succeeded in many different vocations. When did you realise that football was the profession for you?
Daniel Galeano, Tufnell Park
I studied hard at school but it was always obvious to me that if I could spend my life in the game then I would. I started to practice, at the age of nine but it was completely different to me – my first coach was when I was 19. I thought it was just a dream because living in such a small village it seemed that footballers were on another planet entirely. My parents found it difficult to accept that their son, who worked so hard in school, could go to work in football. Back then, football was not a job for serious people. They wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor or something like that. I needed to fight to convince my parents. Fortunately, I’ve finally managed to get myself a decent career [laughs].

I’ve heard that you play down your ability as a footballer. What kind of player were you?
Ian King, Alderney
I wasn’t an international but I played at the top level in France [winning Ligue 1 with RC Strasbourg in 1979]. Sometimes I think, ‘If I’d had the conditions of the modern players, how good would I have been?’ I don’t know. I came very late to the game but the most influential guy, my coach Max Hild [at AS Mutzig] has said I was quite a decent player. I was first a striker then a midfielder then finished as a centre-back so I could defend and attack at a certain level. [FFT: Hild recently compared you to both Ray Parlour and Roy Keane. Is that a fair comparison?] I would be happy to be both!

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