Arsene Wenger announced on Friday he is bringing down the curtain on 22 years at Arsenal that have been full of trophies but tarnished by struggles in recent years to challenge for the Premier League title.
The 68-year-old arrived at the London club in 1996 a relative unknown but leaves widely hailed as the greatest manager in Arsenal’s history after three Premier League titles and a record-breaking seven FA Cup triumphs.
Wenger, who completed the Premier League and FA Cup double in his first full season in England, was hailed as an innovator in his early years and his spiky clashes with former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson became the stuff of legend.
Yet despite cup success in recent years, fans have become increasingly frustrated by the club’s inability to challenge the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea for the Premier League title and a failure to reach the sharp end of the Champions League.
“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” Wenger said in a statement posted on the club’s website.
“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.”
Wenger arrived at the Emirates with Ferguson’s United at the peak of their powers but immediately threw down the gauntlet, winning the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998, before repeating the feat four years later.
But perhaps the most remarkable achievement of his long reign was going through a full league season unbeaten in 2003-04, with his “Invincibles” playing a captivating brand of fluid football.