Wenger's fond memories can't cloud focus on future
"I was thinking that it was a nightmare day," says Arsene Wenger, as he recalls how he felt watching Arsenal go 2-0 down against Hull in last season's FA Cup final.
"That all the fans came full of hope and after 10 minutes we are 2-0 down. With the pressure on, it was really a nightmare. I was ready for a fight. I was ready to fight until the end."
Fortunately for Wenger, his Arsenal players showed the same desire and came back to win 3-2 in extra time - earning the Frenchman his fifth FA Cup winners' medal and ending the club's nine-year trophy drought.
Wenger can make it a managerial post-war record of six FA Cup successes with Arsenal by retaining the trophy against Aston Villa at Wembley today, but the 65-year-old joked that such is his disregard for medals that his cleaners could have stolen them and he would still have no idea.
Wenger said: "If you ask me now 'Show me a medal of anything', I don't know where they are."
Asked if they are in a safe place, Wenger added: "No. I think the guys who come and clean the house, they come and take them! I have given some away, some to charity. I am not a collection man, I am always focused on what's next."
Wenger likes to recall how he paid the equivalent of around £1 to watch FA Cup finals on a shared black and white television in the French village of Duttlenheim, where he grew up during the era of Villa's last success in the competition in the 1956-57 season.
But rather than storing the memory the teams he watched or the scorelines, Wenger remembers the players.
"I remember Bobby Moore (who won the FA Cup with West Ham in 1964)," said Wenger. "I don't remember the teams, but I remember the white ball.
"Because we played on fields, what was amazing for me was to see the pitch at Wembley, the grass. It was unusual for us to see a pitch of that quality.
"The FA Cup has always been very important to me, because it's a massive achievement and a massive trophy. When I was a kid, I watched the FA Cup final in my village. We had to bring 100 francs to watch the television. We paid the money to the school, so that everybody in the village could watch. That was around 1955, '56."
But for a man with such great memories to the past, it's the future on which Wenger is clearly focused. (© Daily Telegraph, London)