Arsene Wenger used his penultimate pre-game press conference as Arsenal manager to thank former CEO David Dein for taking a chance on him back in 1996.
Dein, who left the club in 2007 following a boardroom dispute and went on to sell his 14.5% shareholding in the Gunners to Alisher Usmanov, was a vocal and visible presence in the media and the dressing room during the Frenchman’s trophy-laden first decade at the club.
The duo first struck up a relationship in 1989 when Wenger, having watched a match at Highbury, got talking to Dein’s wife in the directors’ box. It proved to be a serendipitous moment that, via dinner and a game of charades, eventually led to an unknown coach from Strasbourg succeeding Bruce Rioch as Arsenal manager.
“I would like to finish one of my last press conferences to thank David Dein who brought me here,” said Wenger ahead of Wednesday’s game with Leicester.
“He had a special vision for the future for the Premier League and as well he gave me, a foreign manager, a chance when nobody knew me here. I would like to thank him.
“He was always a consistent support through my 22 years. He deserves from me a special thank you because he’s a special man.”
Since news of Wenger’s Arsenal departure broke, Dein has been championing his close friend’s qualities to suitors across the globe. Today, the 68-year-old admitted for the first time that he’s had several job offers.
“Yes, more than I expected,” he quipped when asked about whether contact had been made by interested parties.
“At the moment I focus on doing my job well. I didn’t analyse anything or consider anything.
I want to work well until the last day of my contract, and then after, I will rest a little bit and go from there.
“What is for sure is that I will be active. My brain demands work and is active. I have a huge experience of management and people management. Overall, I will work. What will I do? I don’t know yet.
“I don’t want to go any further on that or into any detail at the moment,” he responded when asked if clubs in England had been in touch.
Wenger was similarly coy on a suggestion, made by Pat Rice, that the game’s biggest regulatory bodies, UEFA and FIFA, could offer him a job.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I have to think about that. I like green grass and I like to walk on it every morning. I don’t know if I’ll continue that, it’s possible.”