The former Arsenal manager has lived the best and worst of football. He discusses self-destruction, single-mindedness and the toll his job took on his life

Arsène Wenger knows that his love for the beautiful game is actually an all-consuming addiction. For the 34 years he spent managing football teams – 22 of them at his beloved Arsenal – he was possessed by the need to win. Little else mattered. At times this devotion produced magnificent results. At others, self-destruction.

“Competition is something that eats slowly at your life and it makes of you a little monster,” he says, video calling from his office at Fifa’s Zurich headquarters, where he has worked since 2019. “That’s what I became, yes. I spent my whole life in top-level competition and it makes you slowly somebody who is psychologically obsessed and one-dimensional, someone who kicks out everything on the road that is not winning the next game.”

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