When the former Arsenal coach was growing up in France, Real Madrid were the club to beat in Europe, winning five European Cups in a row.
Real Madrid was Arsene Wenger’s childhood team
Arsene Wenger has expressed that he followed Real Madrid closely when growing up, admitting that he made offers to manage some of Europe’s major clubs. When the former Arsenal coach was growing up in France, Real Madrid were the club to beat in Europe, winning five European Cups in a row. “When I was a kid, Real Madrid were my squad”, Wenger told reporters. “I was growing up watching Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Santamaria, Paco Gento. They made an impression on me. I liked Real Madrid, and, with time, I ended up facing them.” During his lengthy time at Arsenal, where he oversaw the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, the Frenchman heard from his childhood club. “I went to Real Madrid on two occasions. Not many people can say that,” he said.
The Frenchman wasn’t looking for immediate fame
“But I was involved in a project to build a new stadium to replace Highbury, and we had to finance it. We paid for it all ourselves and no one helped us. We paid for it on the field and selling players high and buying them cheap. That’s why I did not move to Real Madrid. I wanted to finish this project. I turned down some of the best teams in Europe, and now I am quite proud of it because I showed commitment, loyalty and that I can make it to the end of the project. I was not looking for immediate fame, and I went for something deeper. In life, you can only do what you think is right. That is my character. I don’t know if I made the right choice, but I did what I wanted to do.”
Real are now involved in a similar project, with the new Estadio Santiago Bernabeu being built. “I am delighted that the stadium is in the middle of the city,” Wenger said on the new Bernabeu. “It’s part of people’s lives. Football is in the heart of the city. That’s Real Madrid, and that’s Santiago Bernabeu.”