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Liverpool top, DVDs just invented and no Harry Potter – the world when Wenger joined Arsenal

October 1 marks 20 years since Arsene Wenger, a relative unknown in global football, left Nagoya Grampus Eight to take charge of Arsenal.

Nicknamed ‘Le Professeur’ in his early months on British shores, Wenger has certainly taught the Premier League a thing or two in an admirable stint that has given Gunners fans plenty of highs, lows and a long wait for a trophy.

The longest-serving manager in Arsenal history, and only second in longevity to Alex Ferguson in England’s top flight, Wenger has witnessed significant change in both football and the wider world during his time in north London.

Here, Omnisport looks at what things were like when Wenger took over in 1996. How times have changed…



– Manchester United were the reigning Premier League champions (their 10th top-flight title). 

– Alan Shearer, top scorer in the division with 31 goals the previous season, had just joined Newcastle United from Blackburn Rovers for a world-record £15million fee.

– Arsenal were third in the table on October 1, with 17 points from eight matches, three off the league leaders – Roy Evans’ Liverpool.

– Today’s reigning champions Leicester City were 10th with 11 points – four better off than they are now. Tottenham were 14th.

– Juventus were kings of Europe, having beaten Ajax on penalties in the Champions League final in Rome. Current Chelsea manager Antonio Conte started the match.

– Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho had just joined Barcelona as Bobby Robson’s assistant. Pep Guardiola was in that team. Jurgen Klopp was playing for Mainz.

– Germany had just won Euro 96, beating Czech Republic in the final at Wembley. Newly-appointed interim England manager Gareth Southgate missed the crucial penalty in the host nation’s semi-final defeat.

– Joao Havelange was FIFA president, with Sepp Blatter his general secretary. Lennart Johansson ran UEFA.

– Ronaldo was soon to be named the youngest winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award. The Ballon d’Or would go to Matthias Sammer.

– Major League Soccer was only six months old.

– Current Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker was 12. Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who has made one appearance under Wenger this season, hadn’t been born.

– David Beckham hadn’t met Victoria.



– Donovan Bailey held the 100m world record (9.84 seconds); Michael Johnson held a 200m record of 19.32s. Both were set at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where Carl Lewis won his fourth and final long jump gold at the age of 35.

– Andre Agassi was the Olympic tennis champion, but Pete Sampras was top of the ATP world rankings. Current men’s world number one Novak Djokovic was a nine-year-old learning the ropes in Belgrade.

– Damon Hill became the first son of a Formula One world champion to win his own drivers’ title, beating Williams team-mate Jacques Villeneuve into second.

– Frankie Dettori completed the ‘Magnificent Seven’ as he became the first jockey to win all seven races on his card at Ascot, including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The odds on Dettori winning all seven races was 25,051-1.

– Michael Jordan had been named MVP as Chicago Bulls won the 50th NBA Finals, beating Seattle SuperSonics 4-2 in the series.

– Sri Lanka were world cricket champions, having beaten Australia in the final in Pakistan.

– Tiger Woods had been a professional golfer for two months.



– Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales divorced in August.

– Nintendo 64 had recently been released in Japan.

– The New Labour manifesto under leader Tony Blair was launched – it would pave the way for his 1999 election as British Prime Minister.

– Deep Blue Something’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s was top of the UK singles chart when Wenger took charge. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was top of the US billboard chart for the best-selling album of the year.

– The highest-grossing film was Independence Day, which took $817,400,891 worldwide following its September release, beating Twister and Mission: Impossible.

– The first Harry Potter book was still in development.

– It would be another two years until Starbucks opened its first UK store in London.

– Bill Clinton was president of the United States. Current Republican nominee Donald Trump was working as an executive producer of the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

– DVDs had just been launched in Japan.

– Dolly the Sheep had become the first mammal to be successfully cloned.

– A pint of beer – if he chose to drink it – would have cost Wenger £1.60 on average; petrol was 38 pence per litre. It’s now 110.7p.

– He would also have benefitted from a cheaper property market in the region. The average London house price was £94,000; according to Land Registry dater, it’s now £600,625.

Sat 1 Oct, 2016
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