Arsene Wenger says Arsenal 'left their soul' at Highbury following Emirates move
Wenger on Highbury: "The exceptional attitude of the fans, the exceptional football games I witnessed there... it's a special place in my heart"
Last Updated: 09/05/20 10:05am
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal 'left their soul' at Highbury when they moved to the Emirates.
Wenger was Arsenal manager for their final decade at their old stadium, guiding them to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups between 1996 and 2006.
The Frenchman also led Arsenal for 12 years following their move to the Emirates, but could only add three further FA Cups to their collection during that time.
Wenger admits the club had to move to a bigger stadium, but misses what they left behind at Highbury.
He told beIN Sports: "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.
"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."
Wenger's final years at Arsenal were tainted by opposition from some supporters against his management.
'Wenger Out' placards were common among the home fans at the Emirates as Arsenal struggled to compete with their rivals at the top of the Premier League.
Wenger has only fond memories for the fans who frequented Highbury, though, saying: "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.
"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."
Henry: Nothing can compete with Highbury
Earlier this week, Thierry Henry joined The Football Show for an exclusive chat with Jamie Redknapp to reflect on his seven years playing at Highbury.
"It's difficult to put into words what Highbury represented to me or any Arsenal fans. I kissed the ground for a reason and at the time, people thought I was going to leave Arsenal and go to Barcelona and that's why I kissed the ground. I actually kissed the ground goodbye because I knew it was over. I was never going to play in my garden again. I was never going to see that grass early in the morning when we were in the meeting at 11am and I used to walk by the field and I would say to it 'see you later my man'.
"I had great memories there, bad memories although they were more good than bad. Everyone loves to play at Highbury. I don't know what it was. I never went back to see it, it's a flat development now but I refuse to go. It's too hard for me to see it like that. I know it's weird but there is nothing above Highbury for me. I played in a lot of stadiums, bigger stadiums, more beautiful stadiums in terms of the way it's been built or whatever but Highbury is Highbury and it always will be. Nothing can compete with Highbury for me."