Arsene Wenger was no stranger to Jose Mourinho on the touchline or at high-level meetings for most of his 22 years as Arsenal boss.
But the longest serving and most successful Gunners manager of all time might not have been expecting another mental test from his familiar foe, over three years after his Emirates Stadium exit.
The Arsenal legend was taking questions over video call, with a few famous admirers – including former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, rapper Nines and filmmakers Spike Lee and Ken Loach – also taking part.
Naturally, the Special One, now in charge of Wenger’s former arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, couldn’t resist getting in on the act.
Mourinho asked: “I had the opportunity to get to know you at Uefa and Fifa meetings and dinners. With your culture and vision, I believe you have the qualities to be a top exec, such as a CEO or director of football, at a club. Would you have ever considered such a role at Arsenal or was your desire always to remain on the pitch?”
Wenger was his normal mix of firm and thoughtful in his answer during the Guardian Q&A responding: “No, I would have considered being on the board at Arsenal as an adviser.
“I believe that honestly there is a deficit of knowledge in the big clubs of top, top-level competition and games of top-level sport.
“And I believe we have seen recently that there are many ways to be successful in football.
“For example, there’s the Bayern [Munich] way, where the whole success and continuity relies on people who know the values of the club, and they transfer that from generation to generation: [Franz] Beckenbauer, [Uli] Hoeness, [Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge.
“Or there are models in England of quick money and quick success. Both can work. I like the fact that a club is first an identity and has knowledge that is transferred from generation to generation. So that’s why I saw things that way.”
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