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Arsene Wenger is celebrating 20 years at Arsenal this week.
After all that time in English football you would think we’d know Le Professeur inside out. However, the Frenchman is highly private about certain aspects of his life, and some things happened so long ago they’ve nearly been forgotten.
So to celebrate this latest milestone in his Arsenal career, we’ve collected together 20 things you probably didn’t know about the man.
1. Arsene Wenger got the Arsenal job thanks to his performance of Shakespeare in a game of charades. Recounting a tale from 1989, then Arsenal vice-president David Dein told of an evening Wenger spent with him after coming to London to take in a match at Highbury: ‘Arsene didn’t speak English that fluently at the time, which was just as well as it’s a mime game! Within a few minutes he had the courage to act out A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I thought to myself that he was not the usual football manager, an ex-player who has left school at 16. During the evening I saw this vision written in the sky: ‘Arsene for Arsenal!’ It’s destiny, it’s fate, it’s going to happen.’
2. On transfer deadline day in 2014, he went to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis.
3. Instead of watching games in his homeland of France (he was born in Strasbourg), we was taken over the border to watch games in Germany. The side he followed on those trips was Borussia Monchengladbach.
4. Wenger revolutionised the diet among Arsenal’s players upon his arrival at the club. He banned tomato ketchup and the healthy changes led Ian Wright to complain there was broccoli with everything.
5. He has a Masters degree in Economics from Strasbourg University.
6. Everyone knows Arsene Wenger has never lifted the Champions League, but almost unforgivably considering the number of stabs he’s had at it, the League Cup has eluded him too. The Gunners have twice reached the final under Wenger, losing to Chelsea in 2007 and Birmingham in 2011.
7. He is a terrible time keeper. The Frenchman is known for his tardiness regularly turning up late for press conferences and other appointments. Only last week he was four hours late for his briefing ahead of the trip to Hull.
8. Wenger is a big fan of Bob Marley: ‘Yes, I love his music and the man that he was,’ he said. ‘He was not ‘fabricated’. He was real. I love people who do not have conventional paths and who stand out because of their talent.’
9. He doesn’t do the traditional post-match glass of wine with the opposing manager. Sir Alex Ferguson revealed: ‘He never comes for a drink after matches. He’s the only manager in the Premiership not to do so. It would be good for him to accept the tradition.’
10. He speaks six languages – French, German, English, Spanish, Italian and some Japanese. All the more impressive considering he couldn’t speak fluent French until the age of seven. He came to England at the age of 29 to learn English at Cambridge University.
11. He was the first non-British manager to win the Premier League.
12. His parents owned a bistro and a car spare parts business.
13. He didn’t make his professional debut as a player until the age of 29. Following his first appearance for RC Strasbourg he went on to play on a further 12 occasions.
14. When he came to watch his first Arsenal game in the flesh he saw them beat Tottenham 2-0 at Highbury. The player that impressed him most on that January afternoon in 1989 was Perry Groves.
15. Wenger used to get so stressed during his early days as a manager he used to be sick. ‘I started at 33 as a manager and sometimes I felt I wouldn’t survive. Physically, I was sick.’ Getting relegated with his first club – Nancy-Lorraine – probably didn’t help matters.
16. Wenger has an asteroid named after him. It was discovered on March 29, 1998 by Ian P. Griffin, who (obviously) is a Gooner. It’s called 33179 Arsènewenger.
17. He has a temper – as Sir Alex Ferguson so brilliantly recalled when telling his side of the infamous Pizzagate story. ‘Ruud van Nistelrooy came in to the dressing room and complained that Wenger had been giving him stick as he left the pitch. Right away I rushed out to say to Arsene: ‘You leave my players alone.’ He was incensed at losing the game. That was the reason for his combative behaviour. ‘You should attend to your own players’, I told him. He was livid. His fists were clenched. I was in control, I knew it.’
18. Wenger wed long-term partner Annie Brosterhous – a former basketball player – in 2010. The couple, who have a daughter, divorced in 2015.
19. Arsene Wenger wrote a book for the Japanese market in 1997. The title of the book translates as: ‘The Spirit of Conquest’. The tome ‘highlights his managerial philosophy, ideals and values, as well as his thoughts on Japanese football and the game as a whole.’
20. His favourite animals are dogs and horses. ‘I love the horses because I grew up with horses.’
This article originally appeared on Metro.