‘We left our soul at Highbury’: Arsene Wenger says Arsenal failed to ‘recreate the atmosphere’ of their former home after leaving to move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006
- Arsene Wenger says Arsenal ‘left their soul’ at Highbury when they left in 2006
- The former manager said atmospheres at the Emirates Stadium are not the same
- Wenger was manager for successful decade at Highbury but failed to progress
The iconic stadium was the spiritual home of the North London club between 1913 and 2006 before it was demolished when the 60,000-capacity Emirates had been completed.
The Frenchman was Arsenal’s final manager at the stadium in a hugely successful period for the club, guiding them to three Premier league titles and four FA Cup before they paid an emotional farewell to the ground.
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal ‘left their soul’ at Highbury after leaving the ground in 2006
After moving to the state-of-the-art stadium, Arsenal failed to continue as heavyweights in the English game, adding just three FA Cups in Wenger’s next 12 years at the club before he left in 2018.
Highbury was known as one of the toughest places to play during Wenger’s prime years, with the atmosphere created during games never regularly living up to those standards at the Emirates, but Wenger insisted it was a move the club had to make.
‘You are always in a position when you are a football club to move forward or stay in the past. To compete with the other clubs, we had to build a new stadium. The rules had changed’, Wenger told beIN Sports.
The club left the iconic ground to move to the state-of-the-art Emirates Stadium
‘We wanted to create the same as Highbury but we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate exactly. We didn’t find exactly the same atmosphere.’
The 70-year-old was an important figure in helping the club move to their new stadium, including helping to design some of the infrastructure such as the layout of the dressing room.
Arsenal’s continued lack of progress in Wenger’s final years led to sections of fans turning on the decorated Frenchman, who felt a change was needed to re-establish Arsenal to the top, with ‘Wenger Out’ signs becoming commonplace at the Emirates.
Wenger played integral part in designing the Emirates but says atmosphere was not the same
But while the relationship with the fans turned sour during his reign at the Emirates, Wenger says he has nothing but fond memories of the days at Highbury, but says the character of the club is much different to how it was in those days.
‘For me, Highbury is linked with love. Love for the period I had, the exceptional attitude of the fans, the exceptional football games I witnessed there. It’s a special place in my heart’, Wenger added.
Wenger says he has nothing but feelings of love for the club’s former spiritual home
The Frenchman won three Premier League titles in the Highbury era but none after leaving
Fans began to turn on Wenger in the final years and ‘Wenger Out’ signs became commonplace
‘At the time, we were 40 people there, maximum. Today we are 600. We knew everybody. We have moved from a business family to a big company now.
‘You sit on the touchline. The supporters are very close to the touchline. When you kick a corner you can shake the hand of the first supporter. That makes you all together on the pitch.
‘That togetherness, that warm feeling that you get at Liverpool today, or Everton – that’s what you miss.’
Since Wenger left, the Gunners continued to struggle in their progression under successor Unai Emery before he left in November, with the team showing promosing early signs under new boss Mikel Arteta.
Wenger said an emotional goodbye to Arsenal in 2018 after failing to progress at the Emirates
Published at Sat, 09 May 2020 17:06:12 +0000-Arsene Wenger says Arsenal ‘left their soul’ at Highbury when they moved to the Emirates