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  Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 21:24 GMT
Wenger at the Double
Tony Adams and Arsene Wenger celebrate the Double
Tony Adams and Arsene Wenger celebrate the Double

"Arsene who?" the Highbury crowd chorused when Arsenal unveiled the 18th manager in their history in September 1996.

Six years on, they have a resounding answer.

In that period Arsene Wenger has revolutionised the club and scaled the summit of English football in the process.


I dedicate this award to all the coaches out there who work so hard
Arsene Wenger
Following the Double in 1998 in Wenger's first full season, Arsenal celebrated another trophy-laden summer in 2002.

A second Double was the prize for a year of free-flowing football in which the club broke records galore.

The scenes of celebration in May were a far cry from the sceptical acclaim he received on his arrival.

Club captain Tony Adams thought the new man more schoolmaster than manager.

Adams, the hard-drinking fist-clenching Essex boy, and Wenger, the urbane, professorial Frenchman, were poles apart.

But after winning four trophies in the twilight of his career, Adams was a convert - as are the fans.

  Arsene Wenger
Born: 22 October 1948
Managerial career
1981: Strasbourg youth
1983: Cannes assistant
1984: Nancy
1987: Monaco
1995: Grampus Eight
1996: Arsenal

Honours
Monaco: French Ch'ship (88) & French Cup (91)
Grampus Eight: Emperor's Cup (95) & Super Cup (96)
Arsenal: Premiership (98), FA Cup (98), FA Cup (02) & Premiership (02)

An economics student and former defender of little distinction, Wenger's managerial career took off at Monaco.

In seven seasons in the principality, the club never finished outside the top three, winning the title once.

They only fell away in the eighth season, ninth place being off-set by a Champions League semi-final berth.

Despite overtures from the French Football Federation and Bayern Munich, Wenger stayed loyal. His reward? The sack.

After a brief sojourn in Japan, Arsenal came calling and he returned to Europe.

A once proud club was seemingly a million miles away from recapturing their former glory.

But in Wenger, Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein and his boardroom cohorts struck gold.

Dein was convinced that Wenger was the right man for the job and his conviction has been rewarded.

The sensational success on the pitch in 2002 is only the tip of the iceberg of the revolution that Wenger has instigated at the Gunners.

While coaxing the best out of an ageing squad on his arrival, Wenger still had the energy and dedication to reinvigorate a youth set up that had stagnated under previous managers.

He has succesfully blended young and old, European and British and cut out the cancer of the old Arsenal drinking motto "win or lose, get on the booze", making his players wake up to what was expected of them as professionals.

A drinking ban, a strict diet and modern, meticulous training methods - a simple but effective strategy.

Wenger is the very essence of the modern manager, at home on the training pitch, in the dug-out and with the media.

Over the past 12 months he proved that quality in startling style as his team swept all before them with some fabulous football.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live - Gunners boss Arsene Wenger
"We did it in style"
Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein
"Arsene Wenger is a very special guy"
In-depth section on the big BBC awards

Radcliffe triumphs

Awards

Winners in profile

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See also:

19 Oct 02 | Eng Prem
06 Oct 02 | Arsenal
01 Oct 02 | Football
11 Aug 02 | Arsenal
13 May 02 | Arsenal
05 Mar 02 | Arsenal
Links to more Sports Personality 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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