Arsene Wenger reveals devilish streak on BBC's Desert Island Discs

‘I relax by watching other managers suffer. And think, “It’s your turn my friend!”‘: Arsene Wenger reveals devilish streak on BBC’s Desert Island Discs… but which music did he pick as his favourites alongside Bob Marley?

  • Legendary ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appeared on Desert Island Discs 
  • The 71-year-old spoke candidly about several topics on the BBC Radio 4 show 
  • Wenger gave a glimpse into the devilish side of his character on the programme 
  • He has cheekily admitted he now relaxes by watching other managers ‘suffer’ 

Arsene Wenger has given a rare glimpse into the devilish side of his character by jokingly admitting he now relaxes by watching other managers ‘suffer’. 

The legendary former Arsenal coach spoke candidly about a wide range of topics while featuring on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday morning. 

Wenger, 71, presided over the north London club across a 22-year reign, which spanned highs and lows, and decided to step away in 2018.

Arsene Wenger gave an insight into the devilish side of his character on Desert Island Discs

Despite having begun his career on the touchline with Nancy in 1984, the wily Frenchman remains heavily invested in the sport, albeit now from a distance. 

And in his spare time, Wenger continues to find himself fixated with action from across the world, with a particular focus on the stresses of management his former peers will be experiencing.

‘I relax by watching other managers suffer. And think “It’s your turn my friend,”‘ he cheekily explained.

The legendary Arsenal coach has admitted that he relaxes by watching other managers ‘suffer’

‘But by watching football as well, you know, I love it so much. And it’s easier for me when I watch other games to take a distance. 

‘Why does this player make this decision? What are the major mistakes they make? And I enjoy it because football is always unpredictable.

‘It’s not like theatre – you go every night to the theatre – it starts the same and finishes the same. Go every night to a football game – it’s always different.’

Wenger is the longest-serving, and most successful, manager in Arsenal’s rich history, having led them to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup trophies. 

Wenger remains the most successful Arsenal coach in history after winning three league titles

During his insightful time on the airwaves at the weekend, he also reflected on his appointment at the Emirates in 1996 after a one-season spell with Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan. 

He added: ‘I think the club was quite crazy to appoint a guy like me because this was one of the most traditional clubs in England. 

‘And to take a completely unknown guy, I think they were crazy, these guys. But I had the advantage to benefit from it.’

The 71-year-old’s 22-year reign at Arsenal came to an emotional end in the 2017-18 campaign

His tenure in north London unfortunately soured in its latter years, however, due to an increasing frustration among the fanbase over the club’s lack of silverware. 

His emotional swansong at the end of the 2017-18 campaign was difficult, Wenger admitted, and came after a host of top European clubs attempted to lure him away. 

‘It was difficult because when you’re 69 years of age, you don’t imagine going somewhere else as a manager,’ he said.

Wenger, who now works for FIFA, admitted that stepping away from Arsenal was very difficult

‘I turned all the best clubs in the world down to go to the end of my contract, to the end of my mission with this club. 

‘So it was difficult, because your car that drove automatically to the training centre has to stay at home, and you with it. 

‘And to cut that link was very, very difficult, but on the other hand, I decided to change completely. And I’m very happy about that.’ 


His first FA Cup final taking him back to his childhood: 

‘It was because when I was a kid, in my village, we had no television. The first television that we had in our home was when I was 14. So to watch a football game, we had to go to the school and watch in black and white. 

‘Bring one pound, and we could watch a football game… one per year. Can you believe that today? It was the FA Cup Final, so I was a little kid seven, eight or nine years old. 

‘Now imagine this little boy walks out at Wembley and leads his team to play an FA Cup final. So it was something exceptional for me. And, that I can never forget.’

Wenger also reflected on how his first FA Cup final as a coach reminded him of his childhood

The importance of footballers’ minds:

‘I felt that the mental aspect of a young player is very important, and I thought I can help them.

‘I wanted to understand better what is going on in the brain of a young boy. And I forced them every day to say, how did you feel today? 

‘Physically? How was your concentration? How do you feel that tactically we did? How did you think you did? 

‘So even when I meet them today, they still tell me that helped them a lot in their life to think about what they did and if I did well or not.’

Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ pieced together a memorable 49-game unbeaten run under Wenger

The infamous 49-game unbeaten run:

‘I thought the perfection of my job would be one year not to lose a game. 

‘It was an exceptional experience to play 49 games, imagine one and a half years, without losing a game? 

‘Sometimes I thought “Why am I well paid to do this job, it’s so simple, so enjoyable?” 

‘You know, after you lose your first game, you know why you’re well paid!’

Bob Marley & The Wailers’ ‘Could You Be Loved’ is one of eight tracks Wenger has chosen

Which tracks did Wenger choose?

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Could You Be Loved

John Lennon – Imagine 

Leo Ferre – Avec Le Temps 

Elton John – Your Song 

France Gall – Evidemment 

Elvis Presley – The Wonder Of You 

Jacques Brel – Ne Me Quitte Pas 

Frank Sinatra – My Way 

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