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By ESPN Staff

Wenger revels in backing of Arsenal board

Arsene Wenger has never doubted the support of the Arsenal board, from the moment he arrived at Highbury more than a decade ago to agreeing a new deal with the Premier League club last week.

The French coach, 57, has committed his long-term future to the Gunners after signing a three-year contract, reported to be worth in the region of £4million a season.

When Wenger - Arsenal's first manager from outside Great Britain or Ireland - was first unveiled as the man to succeed Bruce Rioch in September 1996, the decision was greeted with plenty of scepticism.

However, that decision has been more than vindicated as the former Monaco and Grampus Eight boss went about transforming the club, ushering in a new era of unprecedented success when landing the Double in his first full season.

It has been a show of faith Wenger will never forget.

'I have had many moments when I have felt down because we have lost a big game, but I never ever had any doubts that I did not have the support of the club,' Wenger told the club's official website.

'When I first arrived many people talked badly about me and I never had the feeling that there was any lack of trust or support from the board. I have never felt disappointed on that front.

'As for all the rest, well you are ready to suffer and work very hard for your success.

'This job is difficult without the support of everyone at the club. Without that you have no chance.'

Wenger admits he has made Arsenal more cosmopolitan during his decade in charge.

However, the Frenchman feels it has proved a positive evolution, the club having now moved from Highbury to the impressive, new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

'We have always tried to respect the values of the club. It was like that when I arrived, but afterwards we have tried to adapt to the modern game. That means there is more of a foreign influx and we have been open to outside influences,' Wenger reflected.

'We have become more international and more sophisticated in our approach to the game, but we try to keep that way of believing in our strength to integrate the sophisticated approach that you need for the modern game.'

Wenger believes he has 'matured' since first arriving at Highbury as a virtual unknown coach.

The Gunners boss is in no doubt he has only been able to develop into such a highly-respected coach though the ongoing support of those he works with.

'They helped me mature because of the huge responsibility that I have,' Wenger said.

'It also strengthened my belief in what is important in the game.

'I could check my beliefs because the club gave me that kind of freedom. That is very important in the life of a manager.'