Tributes pour in for Arsene Wenger as he announces Arsenal departure

Arsene Wenger during a training session at the Emirates Stadium on August 3, 2017
Image: Arsene Wenger will step down as Arsenal manager after 21 years and seven months in charge

The world of football has been quick to pay tribute to Arsene Wenger after his decision to stand down as Arsenal manager.

Wenger's decision will bring to an end a 22-year spell in charge of the club, which has brought three Premier League trophies and seven FA Cups to the Gunners.

Players, managers and pundits from across football have been paying their tributes to the 68-year-old in the wake of the statement he released on Friday morning.

Here's a pick of what's been said about Wenger...

"It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal.

"I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." - Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager

"I am surprised. It is his decision. I respect that. He is an influence in football. Had a fantastic career. Outstanding personality. He was the dominating guy in mid 1990s, 2000s. It is different now because we have to challenge, but in Germany he was a big role model." - Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager

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Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on April 7, 2018
Image: Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Wenger, who was known for being happy to answer press conference questions in German

"If you look back through Arsenal's history, they have always gone long periods without league titles. This is the most successful period in Arsenal's history, the last 20 years.

"There won't be an Arsenal fan who looks back in 10 years time and doesn't look at it as a magical period under Arsene Wenger for what he achieved." - Gary Neville, Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United captain

"He's the man who changed the whole face of the game.

"We owe him so much, yet have given him so much stick. In a way I'm glad he's going, I wouldn't want to see him get any more vitriol than he's had." - Neil Warnock, Cardiff City manager

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: during the Sky Bet Championship match between Cardiff City and Birmingham City at the Cardiff City Stadium on March 10, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Image: Warnock was narrowly beaten by Wenger's Arsenal in 2003 in the FA Cup semi-finals when he was Sheffield United boss

"Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived." - Lois Langton, Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association chair

"If he's happy i'm happy. If he's sad, I'm sad. I always wish the best for my opponents. I always wish the best so that's the point - if he's happy with the decision he made, if he looks forward to the next chapter of his career then i'm happy for him." - Jose Mourinho, Manchester United manager

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he does not want Arsene Wenger to retire from football

"One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch.

"His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched." - Stan Kroenke, Arsenal majority shareholder

"It doesn't surprise me if I'm quite honest. I've done a lot of work around the club in the last few years, and there is a different feel around the stadium this year.

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Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn says he would be delighted if Patrick Vieira replaced Arsene Wenger

"The last four or five league games, the crowds are well down, I think it has run its natural course. Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. He has kept the club relatively successful, but the one thing the fans wanted him to do was to get this Premier League title challenge and that hasn't happened." - Nigel Winterburn, former Arsenal defender

"First of all he had a great career. A fantastic career as a coach in France and England. He has spent about 20 years at Arsenal. He had great success and played predominantly attractive football. He was one of the top coaches in the European area.

"I think he might take over a managerial function. Becoming coach of another club - in present football business - I don't know if he wants it. No, I can't imagine that. And he doesn't need to. He really had a great career." - Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich manager

Jupp Heynckes
Image: Heynckes' Bayern Munich dumped Arsenal out of the Champions League in 2013

"It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons.

"All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003/04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." - Richard Scudamore, Premier League chairman

"Arsene Wenger - I love the man and, quite rightly, he'll go down in Arsenal history as our greatest ever manager. I wish him all the luck and love in the world." - Tony Adams, former Arsenal defender and captain

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David Seaman says a Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry management team would be a fairytale duo for fans

"I played under him for just under a year, it was the fittest I ever was. It was like clockwork. It was a machine. He was so far ahead of his time, it was unbelievable.

"It's great timing, with a massive football match coming up. I think the fans get behind him now until the end of the season. You didn't want it to fizzle out, not have a good performance against West Ham. You didn't want him to drift away. It gives the fans the chance to pack the Emirates between now and the end of the season." - Paul Merson, former Arsenal midfielder

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Paul Merson thinks the Arsenal fans will now get behind Arsene Wenger and the team when they take on Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final

"He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." - Antonio Conte, Chelsea manager

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