LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed he turned down several offers to take over at rival clubs, ahead of his 1,000th game in charge of the Gunners against Chelsea on Saturday.
It was a morning of celebration at Arsenal’s London Colney training base, as Wenger was presented with a commemorative gold cannon to recognise his landmark game as the club’s leader, with League Managers Association chief Richard Bevan also on hand with to present the Frenchman with a glass trophy in honour his achievements since his arrival in English football back in 1996.
Wenger has often said he is not fond of personal accolades in a team sport, but he warmed to the appreciation coming his way as he admitted his loyalty to Arsenal was tested time and again down the years as he was tempted by offers to join rival clubs.
Wenger nodded with approval as it was put to him that he turned down the chance to manage Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and England to stay with Arsenal, as he suggested he could have taken the easy way out if he had accepted one of those offers.
"I would just say I did that with full commitment. We are all only human beings, that means I have certainly made mistakes, but I still think the consistency of our achievement shows that we have not made too many.
"I could rate what I have at this club and I think as well when you come in as a manager you have to adapt and respect the tradition and the values of the club. As well try to bring your own style. What I met here at Arsenal was the freedom in work, the trust of people and I think I knew that and I rate that.
"The most important thing when you love a job is to wake up in the morning and be happy to go to do your job. I always had that here even when we had more difficult periods. That is why I always stayed here.
"I am not in the best position as well to judge my achievements; I leave that to other people. I live from opinions from other people and I have to live with that and accept it.
"How long will I continue? I am an idealist but not a fool, not crazy.
"I am at the stage of my career where I am extremely passionate, maybe more than ever, to do well for this club. But I have to accept that the next thousand will be difficult!"
Some reports had claimed Arsenal would announce the much-discussed contract extension for Wenger ahead of his 1,000th game in charge and while that decision is not set to be made this weekend, Wenger reflected on his historic reign as Arsenal boss.
"It's a privilege of course to managed 1,000 games in the same club and between the moment I met David Dein and he introduced me to Peter Hill-Wood of course a lot has happened at this club" he added.
"I must say for such a long time the club has always supported me and I feel already that I'm privileged in that because that's not always usual in our game. We have gone through difficult and fantasist periods but always remain focused on being united at this club. That's why I think I acted always with three things in my mind.
"The first one is that every decision I make is like I own the club, that's always in the interest in the club first. The second is that I think I am in a job where you need to have a clear perception of your ideas and have the courage to transform it into actions.
"The third that has always guided me is to make this club grow and make sure that the club is bigger when I leave than when I arrived. Time will tell if I managed to do that but I hope so."