Arsene Wenger has admitted staying at Arsenal for 22 years was “perhaps” the biggest mistake of his managerial career.
The 68-year-old, who was appointed on October 1, 1996, stepped down as Gunners boss in May after winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.
The Frenchman left Arsenal with a year remaining on his contract after his side missed out on Champions League qualification for a second consecutive season and he admitted he now looks back on his time in north London with a tinge of regret.
In a wide-ranging interview with French outlet RTL, Wenger had this to say when asked what the biggest mistake of his career was: “Perhaps staying at the same club for 22 years.
“I am someone who likes to move around a lot, but I also like a challenge. I’ve been a prisoner of my own challenge at times.”
Wenger also revealed his obsession with ensuring Arsenal’s success on the field had a heavy toll on his personal life it and questioned whether that is a price his former players Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, who have both moved into coaching, would be willing to pay.
“I regret having sacrificed everything I did because I realise I’ve hurt a lot of people around me. I’ve neglected a lot of people. I’ve neglected my family, I’ve neglected many close ones,” Wenger admitted.
“Deep down though, the obsessed man is selfish in his pursuit of what he loves. He ignores a lot of other things. But it’s a bone to chase at the same time.
“Often, I’m asked if Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira will be good managers and I always answer yes. They have all the qualities; they’re intelligent, they know football, they have excellent skill but do they want to sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed. It’s an obsession which bounces around your head day and night.
“You wake up at 3am thinking about team selection, tactics, formation…”
Wenger also revealed he turned down the opportunity to manage his native France on numerous occasions.
He is now contemplating whether a move into international management would suit him and expects to make a decision on his future “in the next few months”.