Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson has given an emotional interview to BBC 5 live about Arsene Wenger’s departure as manager of Arsenal FC.
Speaking to Nicky Campbell on Your Call, he says: “I’m in shock … he is the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal Football Club.”
Later Wilson pays tribute to him personally too saying: “He is, without doubt, one of the three greatest men I have ever met in my life.”
Wilson was at Arsenal the day Wenger was appointed. He says: “He has personally changed the face of the game in this country… [He came] to England unknown and there was the big joke: ‘Arsene who?’.
“But then he changed anything – you know we had a team who enjoyed a drink, he changed everything about the psychology of it, the rehydration of it, the training of it and everybody else followed suit.”
He says that Wenger set new standards for football clubs in the UK: “Immediately his priority was to build a new training ground. Every other club has followed that template he has had there.
“Then he said we can’t compete with only 38,000 at Highbury .. we must have a bigger stadium…. Everybody else has followed suit. The mark he has had on this country Nicky, I can’t tell you.”
Wilson also talked with great warmth about the personal support he had from Wenger after his daughter died at just 31.
“I’m not just talking about his football knowledge and how he changed the game in this country, but outside as a human being .. through difficult times my wife and I had when we lost our daughter.”
“… he was extraordinary…we went on a pre-season tour … we’d finish the training session and get on a coach and Arsene said ‘No Bob you come and sit with me.’. Then he’d started talking about Hannah and then he’d talk about human spirit – [pauses] – sorry it’s emotional for me.”