Arsene Wenger achieved a lot in his glittering Arsenal reign - three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups to be exact. But, despite the success, the Frenchman still has one lingering regret from his management career.
“I never cared much about the UEFA Cup or Europa League, but I truly miss not having won the Champions League," the 70-year-old told FourFourTwo in an exclusive interview for the November 2020 issue – which is in shops from Wednesday, October 21 and is available to pre-order here.
"I left a knowledge behind me at Arsenal that is there, after nearly two decades of continuous Champions League presence – they’ve never won it and I hope they do one day."
A mixture of inexperience and apparently suspicious draws were the reasons for the club's failure to win the most coveted prize in club football, Wenger tells FFT.
"When I arrived, they’d only played a few Champions League matches in their history. Then in the last years, we were always playing Barcelona or Bayern and I felt the draw was a bit too predictable."
Wenger did come agonisingly close to winning the Champions League in 2006, when his Arsenal team lost 2-1 in the final to Barcelona. His team were forced to play with 10 men for most of the match, following an early red card for 'keeper Jens Lehmann. Despite this, Arsenal took a first half lead through defender Sol Campbell and almost held on.
“It remains a regret – a big regret, especially when we were so close," Wenger laments. "We were 30 minutes away. My biggest regret is that we had to play with 10 men. You go into the final, and you haven’t conceded a goal against Real Madrid with Zidane, Beckham and Ronaldo, or Juventus with Ibrahimovic and Trezeguet. Then suddenly, after just 10 minutes, you have to play with one man less. It was hard to swallow and it still is today – but it’s part of life.”
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