Favorite Wenger moments shared by Arsenal superfan


Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Kanu – 16 African players have been part of Wenger's Arsenal teams. Nigerian forward Nwankwo Kanu was one of those, and was signed by Wenger in 1999.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Weah – Wenger signed Liberian player George Weah while at Monaco. He went on to become the first, and only African player to date, to win FIFA World Player of the Year.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Iwobi – The 22-year-old Nigerian forward is part of the current Arsenal squad, and one of Arsene Wenger's more recent signings from Africa.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Toure – The Ivorian defender transferred to Arsenal in 2002, and was a member of the 2003 to 2004 "Invincibles" team that went the Premier League season unbeaten.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Gervinho – The Ivorian forward played for Arsenal between 2011 to 2013, scoring a total of nine goals.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Song – Cameroon's Alexandre Song played for Arsenal between 2006 to 2012, with a brief spell on loan to Charlton Athletic in 2007.

Photos: How Arsene Wenger changed African football

Adebayor – Togo's forward Emmanuel Adebayor signed for Arsenal in 2006 and stayed until 2009 when he transferred to Manchester City. He was voted African Footballer of the Year in 2008.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)It's the end of an era in football. Arsene Wenger clears his desk today at Arsenal after 22 years at the helm.

While his last few years might be marked by lackluster performances and a growing appetite for changeamong the fans, the manager has undoubtedly left his mark on the footballing world.

Nowhere has the impact of Wenger been felt as much as in Africa. Afterall, Wenger is the manager who brought George Weah to Monaco, the player who would go on to be the first African footballer to win the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995 and, this year, become president of Liberia.

COPA90: How Wenger's Arsenal changed the PL 05:19

Wenger was a pioneer in bringing African players to the Premier League: Kanu, Lauren, Kolo Toure and Iwobi are just some of the 16 African players who featured in his teams.

The #WengerOut debacle has been as hotly debated in Africa as anywhere else, and now the French tactician is gone fans are taking stock of his reign.

Nigerian Arsenal superfan Kelechi Anyikude, 32, who know lives in London, is one of the club's most ardent followers and "Unofficial Nigerian Ambassador," as his Twitter declares, and was one of those giving his reaction on his YouTube fandom channel Kelechi Tube.

He spoke to CNN about his favorite Wenger memories, what he meant for the club and the future of Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal 02:23

How do you feel about Wenger leaving after 22 years?

Kelechi Anyikude: It was emotional. It was the one that you grew up with. It's someone who helped African football a lot. You are aware that a great president of Liberia (George Weah) -- he was instrumental to it, if you ask me. It was very emotional. It was a sad one, but he's made the decision so we have to respect that.

Kelechi Anyikude, Africa's Arsenal superfan.

How did you react when you found out the news?

Kelechi Anyikude: I was devastated to be honest. I was not expecting it. There was no warning at all. I just woke up and just saw it and was really shocked. I had to do a lot of press briefings that day. It was shocking news but I can see reasons why he left as well. We just wish him the best.

Alex Iwobi on Wenger, Okocha and the World Cup 02:00

What do you think were his greatest achievements at Arsenal?

Kelechi Anyikude: 49 unbeaten. Going a whole season unbeaten was his greatest achievement. He won the league at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford. These are things that will be remembered for life. People say his legacy is tainted. But when you go to the Emirates people chant: "49...49...undefeated!" He was the one who did all of this. His legacy just shines through. It's beautiful.

Nwankwo Kanu of Arsenal celebrates his goal during the FA Charity Shield match against Manchester United in 1999.

And his biggest failing as manager?

Kelechi Anyikude: I don't want to look at it as failing but I just want to look at it as the one who was stuck in his ways. He had a pattern of playing football and he stuck to it. He was sometimes too loyal if you ask me. There are a few things that he's done which are part of his principles, which are also part of his undoing.

How did he influence African football?

Kelechi Anyikude: He signed George Weah who was the African footballer of the year. This made the other African footballers look up to George to say: "Okay, we can make it now." He got (Nigerian player) Kanu as well. Despite Kanu's heart condition he gave him a chance and he did well for growing Arsenal's fanbase in West Africa and all over the World. These are the things that he's done. He also signed other African greats like Kolo Toure, Eboue and Lauren. With these people playing in established leagues like the Premier League, the younger ones in Africa look up to them. I think he was instrumental to all of that.

Alex Iwobi of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Watford in 2016.

He was a pioneer in signing African players. How do you think that inspired a younger generation of footballers in Africa?

Kelechi Anyikude: He gives you hope that you can make it in life. You know if you move to England you could be playing. He liked to promote younger players from the younger teams. He did it with so much class and grace. He played football the proper way with these African players. In turn, when they go to their national teams they would improve. Kanu might come to the national team with a training idea and people will copy it. The guy has really improved African football. Kanu flew from Nigeria for his last game at the Emirates. That shows you how important the manager is.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Arsene Wenger – After being appointed as Arsenal's manager in 1996, Arsene Wenger went on to have a huge impact on the club and English football. He introduced new ideas about nutrition, training and tactics and established a track record for signing players who became global stars. But later in his career, after a decline in performance and a failure to qualify for Champions League, Wenger faced pressure from disgruntled fans.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Before Arsenal – The Frenchman joined Arsenal in 1996 after managing Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight. Twenty years after his brief stay in Japan, Wenger's influence still echoes, following its rise from a backwater of world football to one of its emerging powers.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Strengthening the side – Wenger began changing the culture of Arsenal almost immediately, although not without some player resistance. He changed players diets -- where he famously banned them from chocolate and replaced the cafeteria's menu from burgers to fish, chicken and vegetables. He also applied a tough training regime and emphasized the importance of ball control.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Double win – In 1998, it all paid off. Wenger became the first foreign manager to win both the Premier League title and the FA Cup. He went on to repeat that double again in 2002.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

History repeats itself – Open top bus parades began the norm for Arsenal fans, this one taking place in 2002.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

The Invincibles – The 2003-2004 team earned the nickname "The Invincibles" after it went through the Premier League season undefeated -- with 26 wins and 12 draws.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

New, young players – In years to come, Wenger would attempt to rebuild and renovate his team. In 2003, he signed Cesc Fabregas -- who became Arsenal's youngest ever played at the age of 16.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

New, young players – At the end of the 2003-2004 season, he also signed Dutch striker Robin Van Persie for £3 million -- who once said Wenger was the best manager in the world.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Invicible days over – Arsenal's unbeaten streak of 49 games was over in 2004, after being defeated by Manchester United. This would be the beginning of Wenger and Arsenal's downfall, with the 2005 FA Cup being the last major trophy they'd win for almost a decade.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Champions League controversy – There were still highlights, though. In 2006, the team reached the final of the Champions League but lost 2-1 to Barcelona. Arsenal led for much of the match before conceding two late goals. The first-half sending off of Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann made the task all the more difficult.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Champions League controversy – Lehmann was visibly distraught as he left the pitch after fouling Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Struggles – Years passed and fans hope faded. Wenger struggled to hold onto key players, and lost the likes of Fabregas, to Barcelona, and Van Persie -- who joined rivals Manchester United.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Shiny stadium, no trophies – Wenger played a pivotal role in the building of Arsenal's new training ground and the move from Highbury to their new state-of-the-art Emirates Stadium, which opened in 2006. However, the funding for the new stadium -- which cost £390 million -- set Wenger back, forcing him to be adopt a conservative approach in the transfer market. So while the team had a shiny new football ground, they were left without any new trophies.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Nine-year drought – Then finally, after a nine-year drought, Arsenal won silverware once again after beating Hull City in a gripping 2014 FA Cup final. Arsenal players carried their French manager as they celebrated after the match.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Silverware – Over 250,000 fans turned out to watch the team's open-top bus parade through Islington.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Time to say goodbye – In the years that followed, though, Wenger continued to face fan backlash. "Thanks for the memories," one sign read, "but it's time to say goodbye."

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

Wenger Out – Eventually, "Wenger Out" banners started appearing all over the world, this one was spotted at the annual rugby sevens event in Hong Kong.

Photos: Arsene Wenger: The man who was once invincible

End of an era – Then, finally, after 22 years, Wenger announced on April 20 that he would leave Arsenal. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down," he wrote in a statement.


Favorite Wenger moments shared by Arsenal superfan Favorite Wenger moments shared by Arsenal superfan Reviewed by odewole Olusegun on Thursday, May 17, 2018 Rating: 5

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