Over 21 years, you’re bound to have any number of iconic, quotable moments. As we start the Arsene Wenger Parade of Happy Sadness, we start to look back on his career a bit, and we want to highlight some of the iconic moments that helped define one of the most memorable coaching tenures in modern history.
With that in mind, I’m here to take a look at some of the big moments that produced Arsene Wenger’s five most memorable quotes.
5. Arsenal lose the 2000 UEFA Cup final on penalties. This was one of Arsene’s two (up to now) chances to win a European trophy, and a dour scoreless draw and no goals in the “golden goal” extra time meant that the game would go to penalties. Galatasaray won 4-1 in a really anticlimactic penalty shootout, and when asked how his team managed to not score a single goal until the penalties, Wenger said “I didn’t see it”.
4. The Battle Of Old Trafford. During that Invincibles season, Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford was more fraught than usual. Patrick Vieira picked up two cards in three minutes to earn an early shower towards the end, and then Diego Forlan was awarded a penalty for a dive in the last minute of the match. van Nistelrooy stepped up to take it and missed. Martin Keown didn’t let him forget it. They nearly came to blows. It was an amazing game. Asked about whether the incident was a penalty after the game, Wenger said “I didn’t see it”.
3. Wayne Rooney’s goal to break Arsenal’s unbeaten streak. After the Invincibles season, Arsenal started 2004-05 right where they left off. Unbeaten in nine to start the season, Arsenal headed up to Old Trafford full of the swagger that a season and change not losing will tend to give you. It was scoreless until the 73rd minute, when Ruud van Nistelrooy slotted home a penalty, then a Wayne Rooney goal deep in stoppage time ensured that the streak would end at 49 games. When asked about the nail Rooney put in the streak’s coffin, Wenger said “I didn’t see it”.
2. Jens Lehmann sent off. The 2006 Champions League final should have been so much more than it was. In the 18th minute, though, Lehmann’s moment of madness meant that Arsenal had to deal with Barcelona down a man. In the 37th minute, though, against all odds Arsenal got a goal. They defended as well and as hard as they could, but they finally wore out and Barcelona got two goals in five minutes near the end to seal the deal. When asked about Lehmann’s sending off and how pivotal a moment it was, Wenger said “I didn’t see it”.
1. Ryan Giggs’ iconic goal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay. After a tense, tight first leg, the teams headed into a replay all square, knowing one goal would settle it. That goal was scored by walking human carpet Ryan Giggs, sending Manchester United to the Cup final. Following the game, Wenger said “I didn’t see it.”
This one didn’t quite make the list, but when asked how he felt about announcing his resignation today, Wenger said “I didn’t see it”.