Arsène Wenger will wave goodbye to Arsenal at the end of the season.
After 22 years of service at the North London club, Wenger made a surprise announcement on Friday confirming he has resigned.
Wenger will leave as Arsenal’s longest-serving boss, with three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies tied to his name.
From 1996 to 2018, Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal has produced insane highs and lows. If you keep scrolling, you can see the most iconic images from his record reign at the club.
Arsène Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 after coaching in Japan. He was not a popular appointment and club captain Tony Adams said: “What does this Frenchman know about football? He wears glasses and looks more like a schoolteacher.” But his unique attacking philosophy and belief in nutrition would help transform the English game.
Source: Henry Winter.
Wenger inherited a good squad, including prolific striker Ian Wright. The English centre forward broke the club’s all-time goalscoring record of 187 goals in 1997 when he netted a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers at Arsenal’s then home ground of Highbury.
Wenger silenced his critics when the Premier League and FA Cup in 1998. Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp and wing wizard Marc Overmars both excelled.
Wenger signed Thierry Henry for £11 million ($US15.5 million) in 1999 from Juventus. The French striker scored 228 goals in all competitions (breaking Wright’s record) and became Arsenal’s best player of all time.
Wenger guided Arsenal to the 2000 UEFA Cup final, where the team met Galatasaray in Copenhagen. The Turkish champions triumphed 4-1 in a penalty shootout to give Wenger his first big taste of European failure.
Arsenal suffered another cup final setback in 2001, when two goals in five minutes from striker Michael Owen helped Liverpool FC win the FA Cup.
Glory was not far around the corner, though. In 2002, Wenger guided Arsenal to a second ‘double’ as the club scooped the Premier League and the FA Cup. The campaign was notable for an outrageous strike from Bergkamp, now recognised as the greatest Arsenal goal ever.
Arsenal’s rivalry with Manchester United was a hallmark of Wenger’s tenure. In a fiery Premier League clash in September 2003, United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a late penalty. Defender Martin Keown (pictured) celebrated in the striker’s face.
Perhaps the sweetest moment of Wenger’s reign. Arsenal went an entire season without being beaten in 2004 and won the title in the backyard of arch London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. It was Wenger’s last Premier League title.
Another FA Cup trophy came in 2005 — this time after a dramatic penalty shootout against Manchester United.
In 2006, Arsenal made it to the Champions League final. Having beaten Real Madrid and Juventus in previous stages, it lost 2-1 to FC Barcelona after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off in the first half.
American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke bought a 9.9% share in Arsenal in a deal worth £65 million. He joined the board of directors in 2008 and is now the majority shareholder with a 67.05% stake.
Source: BBC Sport.
Croatian striker Eduardo da Silva suffered a horrific broken leg in a match against Birmingham City in 2008. Arsenal was five points clear at the top of Premier League table that February, but went off the rails.
The sight of Wenger gesturing with his hands in the Manchester United stands was one of the most iconic football images of 2009. Wenger was sent away from the dugout because he kicked a plastic water bottle on the touchline. His side lost 2-1.
Despair was becoming a familiar feeling for Wenger by 2010 as the manager collapsed with his head in his hand during a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City in March — a result that dented Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge. Arsenal, again, ended the season without a trophy.
Wenger’s pain continued in 2011 and it is the 8-2 loss against Manchester United that arguably triggered the infamous “Wenger Out” campaign.
Source: The Telegraph.
Wenger brought some feel-good news to Arsenal in 2012 when he re-signed former striker Henry on a two-month loan deal in 2012. The forward even scored on his second debut, grabbing the game’s only goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup third round win over Leeds United.
Arsenal had been regarded as a selling-club in the Emirates Stadium era, but the arrival of Mesut Özil from Real Madrid for £40.25 million ($US56.3 million) in 2013 was believed to signal a new beginning. Özil scored his first goal for Arsenal against Napoli in October (pictured below).
Wenger had silverware in his hands again in 2014, when Arsenal won the FA Cup final — the club’s first major trophy in nine long seasons.
Like London buses, two trophies came one after the other as Arsenal celebrated another FA Cup trophy in 2015. It mean Arsenal had won the trophy more times than any other team.
But not all fans were happy — and “Wenger Out” banners were becoming commonplace at Arsenal games in 2016.
Arsenal fans even staged a protest outside the Emirates Stadium before a Champions League game against Bayern Munich in 2017. Arsenal lost the game by a 5-1 score, losing 10-2 on aggregate in a night Wenger will hope to forget.
But the last chapter in Wenger’s story at Arsenal could contain a happy ending. The club is in the semi-final of the 2018 UEFA Europa League. After two major European failures, Wenger will be praying for a swansong for his remarkable tenure.
Photos from Getty, Reuters, and AP.
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