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Why Will Arsene Wenger Be Remembered By Africans?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season, ending his 22-year career as manager of the premier league club.

Since Wenger made known his decision to quit the club, winds of tributes from across the globe, especially from players who played under his guidance, continues to blow across various social media platforms.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Big shoes for anyone to fill, playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA Cup, the invincible, playing with some of the best assembled players and influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club,”[/perfectpullquote]

Nigerian legend, Kanu Nwankwo twitted.

As the tributes, many of which speak of their fond memories with the legendary manager, continue to pull in, Ducor Sports takes a look at the level of impact made by the 68-year-old French coach in the lives of some African players and why he will be remembered for his contribution to African footballers.

As the current longest-serving manager in the Premier League, who became coach of Arsenal in 1996, Wenger became a father to several players that he brought to the spotlight.

Despite being a European coach, Wenger is one manager who reposed lots of confidence in African players, possibly because of their commitment to duties. His belief in their ability made a huge impact in their career while plying their trade in Europe.

His most outstanding prodigy amongst the many that he scouted out of the continent and Europe was George Manneh Weah who reached the pinnacle of the beautiful game—winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or, European Best and African Best thrice. Weah is the current President of Liberia.

The FIFA 1995 Ballon D’or winner was scouted by coach Wenger in 1988. His signing of Weah was part of his quest to defend his Ligue1title won during his debut season with A.S Monaco. Through Wenger’s discovery, Weah rose to stardom and became the first African player to win the most prestigious individual award and has always regarded Wenger as a “father figure”.

Few years later at Arsenal, the French coach also discovered another Liberian Christopher Wreh, who became the first African to win the Premiere League. He was a member of the Arsenal side which won the Premier League and FA Cup double during the 1997–98 season.

The number of African players brought to the spotlight through Wenger’s discovery and confidence reposed, increased during his 22 years at Arsenal.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Kolo Toure is another African player who burst to the spotlight after he was discovered by Wenger in 2002. The Ivorian defender impressed Wenger while on trial before sigining from ASEC Mimosas in 2002. Seven years later, the Ivorian was part of the invincible and also captained the team before joining Manchester City in 2009.

Voted 13th on the list of Arsenal’s 50 greatest players ever, Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu is another African player whose success can be credited to Wenger.

After he was signed by Wenger in 1999, Kanu went on to win four major titles during his five years spell at the club.

Other African players who featured for Arsenal under Wenger’s tutelage include, Ivory Coast’s Emmanuel Eboué, Togo’s Emmanuel Adebeyor, Morocco’s Marouane Chamakh, Cameroon’s Alex Song and Lauren Etame Mayer. Recently, Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny, Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Although he also groomed several players from European countries, Wenger will be remembered for his confidence reposed in African players.

“For everything you’ve done for Arsenal Football Club, for trusting me as a teenager, for giving me the opportunity to express myself and grow both as a footballer and as a person. I will forever be grateful to you boss. Thank You So Much!”- Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi


Featured Image: Getty

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