Arsenal to unveil Wenger statue, completing the fans’ proposal of 13 years ago




By Tony Attwood


On December 9, 2011 Arsenal Football Club honoured a trio of Club legends by unveiling three statues outside Emirates Stadium as part of the Club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.    What was not revealed on that day however was exactly why the club was putting up statues, nor that in the original plan there was also the suggestion that there should be an Arsene Wenger statue.   The story takes us back to early 2010…

This was the time when three members of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association (AISA) had a meeting with Ivan Gazidis in his office at the Emirates Stadium, which had been opened four years before.

I was part of the delegation, as in 2009 I had launched the Arsenal History Society, as part of AISA, and what Mr Gazidis wanted to talk about was making the Emirates Stadium feel more as if it were part of Arsenal’s heritage: a continuation of the club that had started as Dial Square in 1886.

So not being one who is backward in coming forwards, I grabbed the opportunity to present an idea that I had been mulling over for some time.  An idea that was not just part of my work in trying to get Arsenal’s history more understood, but also to solve a very practical problem.

The idea I presented was for statues of famous people associated with Arsenal, at key points around the stadium area.  And I proposed these not just to celebrate Arsenal’s past, but also to solve a very practical problem.  Because if you were attending matches right from the early days at the Emirates you might recall that the congestion around the entrances was even worse than last season.

My suggestion was that statues to Arsenal’s great heroes would of course make the stadium feel more like the continuum of Arsenal through the ages, but it would also ease the crowding before games.  The argument being that people would say “I’ll meet you at Tony Adams,” which would encourage friends to meet at the statue, and not near the gate.  And I rather think that has worked.

The statues I suggested in that meeting were Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Herbert Chapman, Sir Henry Norris and as you might imagine, Arsene Wenger.  I saw Chapman to Wenger as a continuity of greatness within the club.

I knew Norris was going to be a long shot because by 2009 I had published enough research on Sir Henry Norris to show that the traditional histories of him were completely wrong and he was beyond any doubt the man who saved Arsenal from oblivion.  He was also a significant war hero in the first world war, which is far removed from the image of him as written up in a history published by a Tottenham fan which placed the blame for that club’s failures at the door of Norris and others at Arsenal.    

So I had set about re-writing Norris’ history, with an AISA colleague through a series of AISA Arsenal history booklets starting with “Dial Square to Woolwich Arsenal” and particularly including “The true story behind Arsenal’s election to the First Division in 1919”.  That was then followed up with a much more massive series published on-line as “Henry Norris at the Arsenal”  which is of course free to read.

Arsenal deemed that the world was not yet ready to re-habilitate Henry Norris no matter how much he had been falsely maligned – so no statue to him.  But a statue of Chapman, Adams and Bergkamp – yes those were welcomed.  Wenger, it was felt, was not right, as at that time he was still at the club.

Of course I played no part in the matter after that, although I was thanked publically at the unveiling, which was nice. And my suggestion for Chapman “looking up at the stadium as if to say, ‘I did that’,” did, I feel, come to pass.

But missing out on Wenger I thought was a shame.  So instead, working with AISA, and particularly Drew Grey, the chair of AISA, a secondary plan came to pass.  A banner for Wenger in the stadium.   We raised money through this site to pay for it, and it is the only banner in the ground from a supporters group which celebrates a manager, rather than simply announcing a supporters club’s name.

Our effort with the “Football should be an art” banner was also celebrated on Match of the Day.

And now it seems we are finally getting the next stage of what we wanted – a Wenger statue.  The Athletic has announced it is coming, and that’s good enough for me.

That leaves just one thing left – to do more work on establishing the true facts concerning Sir Henry Norris, and as part of that discussions are underway for some of us to work on restoring his gravestone so that those who really do know what Norris did can pay their respects properly.

I am really grateful to the support that Arsenal Independent Supporters Association have given to the Arsenal History Society and our ideas for commemorating Arsenal’s past, and I’m delighted that another of our concepts – the statue to Wenger seems now to be coming to pass.

8 Replies to “Arsenal to unveil Wenger statue, completing the fans’ proposal of 13 years ago”

  1. It will be fantastic to see Arsene take his rightful place outside the Stadium his genius management did so much to pay for.

    I believe the money earned during our staggering run of Champions league qualifications under his stewardship almost identically matches the cost of the Stadium.

    Fully deserved recognition for a magnificent, selfless manager.

    And well done Tony for all your hard work behind the scenes.

  2. Tony,

    I’d like to echo Nitram’s comments regarding your work. Every team must love to have fans like you!

  3. AW truly deserves his statue outside the stadium. I still feel that we ought to rename the stadium under his name , for we was instrumental for us getting there .
    Am proud that I was one of those who contributed to that now famed banner , as well as being a loyal supporter of this blog almost from its inception .
    We did join in to fight the good fight to keep The Arsenal name great and unsullied , especially under AW , who as I like to say , walked with us .
    I do remember those days when we were laughed at as having not won a cup in 8 years ! After all those many FA Cups , very few are still laughing .

    Thank you , Tony for this blog and all the positivity that it enshrines . Than you for all your hard word , even during all our dark and negative days .

    I feel that we are about to start on another great journey with our Arsenal again . I truly enjoyed last season , and believe we have set a marker for future leap of faith .

    WOO HOO , HOO ! And Up the Gunners !

  4. I can only agree with the other and say thank you Tony for your work and your ideas.
    Finally Wenger gets what he deserved! I will be happy to go and see his statue when I come over to the Emirates next time. The suggestion about the renaming the stadium to Arsène Wenger stadium would be another step. But in Belgium it is a law (?) that you can’t name streets or buildings to living persons. So let us hope that it will be a long long time before we could rename the stadium in to the Arsène Wenger stadium.

  5. Anytime I come up here on Untold Arsenal, I feel prouder as an Arsenal fan. Thank you, Mr Tony Attwood, Walter, Andrew, Hardly, Bricksfield and every other member of Untold Arsenal family. Your dedication to keeping those of us in overseas especially, informed and beautifully attached to the Arsenal.

    Yes, we’ll keep the faith stronger.

    By the way, Arsenal will win the 2023/2024 EPL title. You all heard it here first.🙂💪💪

  6. Augustine – and others who have written in, or written to me personally… I wasn’t particularly angling for praise or recognition, but was just keen to remind everyone of the part we played in getting the statues started. And I really should have said more about Arsenal Independent Supporters Association (AISA) who suggested to me that I ought to set up the Arsenal History Society.
    AISA now have a means of joining the association without paying for membership, which is helpful if you want to show support, but are outside London and so unlikely to be able to benefit from its activities. It’s called Associate Membership and you can read about it at

    I do hope you’ll consider it. And again thanks for all the good wishes.

  7. Having read with interest your proposal to have a statue of Arsene Wenger I am taking this opportunity to contact you as I feel extremely enthusiastic about this project. I am a sculptor specialising in figurative portraiture and have completed over 60 private and public commissions. In 2011 – to the end of 2012 I was a chosen artist with BT Art of Sport for the 2012 Olympics. I endeavor to capture the character. spirit and motivation of each subject, together with a natural likeness. I would be honored to have the opportunity to create a statue to commemorate this remarkable man.

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