Arsene Wenger was reminiscing over his time at Arsenal this week, and has made it clear that the move from Highbury took some key special features away from the atmosphere.
The Frenchman will go down in history as the Invincibles manager, but he was so much more to Arsenal fans, and he was key in paving the way for our new stadium to be built.
Wenger’s success helped to steer us into the future of what football clubs were to be, but it is the older elements which he misses most.
“Through all my career, when you arrived to drive down to Highbury, that was always a special moment,” Wenger reminisced.
“Highbury is linked with love, love for the period I had there, love for the exceptional attitude of the fans, the special football games I witnessed there, it’s a special place in my heart. There was 40 people there, now there’s more like 400, you knew everyone.
“We have moved from a business family to a big company now and, of course, Highbury was linked with the business family. The supporters were very close, when you kicked a corner you can shake the hands of a supporter, and it gave a togetherness, a warm feeling that was unique.
“You’re always in a position with a football club where you ask whether to move forward or to stay in the past, we had to go through a period where we moved stadiums.
“The rules were changed, we wanted to create a stadium with the same feeling of Highbury but we left our soul because we could never replicate that.
“The distance from the pitch to the stands had to be bigger for ambulances to come in, all that kind of thing, so we didn’t find exactly the same atmosphere.”
The Emirates is no doubt an amazing stadium, and definitely ranks as the stand-out stadium I have set foot in, but it is no secret that it does lack the atmosphere that we once had.
Football has changed since we left Highbury, with mega-rich owners at a number of clubs across Europe, and while the need for the Emirates is clear, you can’t help but miss the feelings that were associated with our former home.
What are your happiest memories of Highbury?