Saturday, February 25, 2012

Arsène Wenger

Arsène Wenger, OBE (born 22 October 1949) is a French football manager and former player. He is the manager of English Premier League side Arsenal, a position which he has held since 1996. Born in Strasbourg and subsequently raised in Duttlenheim, Wenger started playing for amateur football teams as a teenager before joining FC Mulhouse in 1973 to begin his professional career. He moved back to Strasbourg in 1975, where after six years he ended his playing career and completed his studies at the University of Strasbourg.

As a manager, Wenger achieved greater triumph and recognition. Despite an unsuccessful period at AS Nancy-Lorraine – culminating in his dismissal after the club's relegation from the First Division in 1987, Wenger won the league championship with AS Monaco the following season. In 1991, he guided the club to victory in the Coupe de France but failure to regain the domestic championship in later seasons led to Wenger departing Monaco by mutual consent at the end of the 1994–95 season. He briefly coached Japanese J. League side Nagoya Grampus Eight, winning the Emperor's Cup and the Japanese Super Cup.

It was at Arsenal that Wenger made a name for himself. In 1998, he became the first manager born outside of Britain to win the league and cup double and replicated the achievement in 2002. In 2004, Wenger became the only manager in Premier League history to go through an entire season undefeated, a run which ended at 49 matches. His tenure also brought the club their first appearance in a Champions League final at Paris in 2006. Wenger is the club's longest serving manager and most successful on trophies alone as of February 2012.

Wenger is widely regarded as one of the world's best managers. He has been dubbed a "miracle worker" by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein for achieving consistency with minimal resources. Wenger is often credited for revolutionising the state of English football, in spite of his contentious recruitment policy and lack of discipline shown from his earlier Arsenal teams. The nickname Le Professeur was given to him by his former Arsenal players and is still used by fans and the British media today, reflecting his astute and forward thinking approach.

Early Life
The son of Alphonse and wife Louise Wenger, Wenger was born on 22 October 1949 in Strasbourg, Alsace. He was raised in the village of Duttlenheim, 13 miles south west of his birthplace along with his older sister and brother, Guy. Wenger's parents owned an automobile spare-parts business, as well as a bistro titled La Croix d'Or. Reflecting later on his upbringing in an address to the League Managers Association Wenger said, "There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub … I learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub – who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team."

Wenger was introduced to football by his father, the manager of the village team. As a young boy he was taken to see games in Germany, where he held an affection for Borussia Mönchengladbach. As Alsace was an area steeped in religion, Wenger and the village boys were raised Catholic and often needed to seek permission from the priest to miss vespers – evening prayers in order to play football. Because the population of Duttlenheim was small, fielding a team of eleven players of equal ages proved difficult. Wenger as a result did not play team football until the age of twelve.

Personal Life
Wenger is married to former basketball player Annie Brosterhous, with whom he has one daughter, Léa (born 1997), and lives in Totteridge, London. Away from managerial duties, he is a football consultant for French television station TF1. Wenger is also a world brand ambassador for Nike Football and FIFA World Cup sponsor Castrol. As part of the latter's arrangement, he has conducted several training camps for international youth teams worldwide, as well as advising and providing input to the Castrol Performance Index, FIFA's official ratings system, used for gauging player ratings at official FIFA tournaments ever since the system's inception. Wenger is also renowned for being multilingual; in addition to speaking fluent French, German and English, he commands some Italian, Spanish and Japanese.

Wenger has also authored a book on football management exclusively for the Japanese market, Shōsha no Spirit (勝者のエスプリ, Shōsha no Esupuri?, lit. The Spirit of Conquest in English and L'esprit conquérant in French), published by Japan Broadcast Publishing (a subsidiary of NHK) in September 1997, in which he highlights his managerial philosophy, ideals and values, as well as his thoughts on Japanese football and the game as a whole.

In 2007, Wenger had an asteroid, 33179 Arsènewenger, named after him by the astronomer Ian P. Griffin, who states Arsenal as his favourite football club.

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