THE Arsene Wenger revolution was based on treating us like adults.
Under previous managers it had all been so edgy.
We’d be wound up to get angry as a way of making us perform: “You will f***ing perform or you’re f***ing out of here!”
Or we’d just be whipped into the ground: “F***ing perform . . . f***ing perform!”
The big problem with taking Arsene’s approach is that it isn’t difficult to take advantage of — it’s almost like having a parent you think is a bit soft and you know if you cry hard enough you’ll get a sweet.
Players that are strong characters have taken his kindness for weakness.
In my view, players like Emmanuel Adebayor and William Gallas have taken liberties.
When Adebayor arrived at Arsenal, he had everything.
He came in just as Thierry Henry was getting ready to leave. It looked like the perfect transition.
Then all of a sudden he wanted the same money as Thierry.
It was like holding the club to blackmail and it destroyed any relationship he had with the fans.
My record of 185 goals for Arsenal stood for eight years and then, when it went, it went to the man I consider to be the greatest player who’s ever been at the club.
Dennis Bergkamp was the greatest signing, but Thierry is the greatest EVER Arsenal player.
Now, looking at somebody like Mesut Ozil, I see the amount of chances he creates and know if I was out there with him I’d break Thierry’s record by 30 or 40 goals. If I was playing with Mesut and I wasn’t scoring at least one goal a game, I would be very disappointed.
GETTING the call that told me, “You’re in the England squad” was surreal.
Five years previously I’d been playing Sunday morning football and working every day.
Now I was being considered as one of the best couple of dozen English players.
The only cloud in that sky was Steve McMahon — he was really horrible to me on that first day.
We were playing a game where if you lose the ball you have to go in the middle and chase it.
I lost the ball quite a few times because I was so nervous. McMahon really laid into me, loudly saying things like: “For f***’s sake, who are these players?” It was just bullying, plain and simple. It was something I never really forgot.
I don’t think he did either, because a few years later when I was at the peak of my powers at Arsenal and he was with Manchester City playing against us at Highbury, he had this look about him that made me think if he gets an opportunity he’s going to try and do me.
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Sure enough, we went in hard for a challenge. My foot went over, skimmed up his leg and gone bang into his groin. One of my studs has slit his p**** all the way down!
After the game, when he was in the treatment room getting himself stitched up, he called me in and said: “Jesus Christ, Wrighty! Look what you’ve f***ing done!” Of course I was telling him how sorry I was but all the time I’m thinking: “Good!”
I didn’t do it on purpose — there are other ways of getting your own back — but I won’t pretend I wasn’t glad it happened.
Years later he told me that for a while every time he got aroused or got any type of sensation it would start hurting and he would think of me.
Even then I thought: “Serves you right for being such a w***er.” It still burns that I didn’t get into the squad for Euro 96.
Maybe Terry Venables, the then manager, had it in his mind that Alan Shearer was enough.
What it showed me, though, was that even though the six goals Al scored were brilliant, and he scored in that semi-final, the team still needed something else.
He didn’t have it off the bench late in the semi-final against Germany and when the one chance appeared it was a tired Gazza trying to get on the end of it.
I honestly believe it was my destiny to score that goal — that it was written in the stars somewhere. It was MY goal!
To make matters worse, years later Terry came out and admitted to me he thought leaving me out of the Euro 96 squad was a mistake. But what could I do about it then?
IN a Champions League game in 2015, Monaco versus Valencia, the same agent, Jorge Mendes, represented 16 of the 22 players on the field.
It’s an extreme example but at the same time it shows just how much power agents have within the game now.
This isn’t just another rich footballer having a rant about having to give up 20 per cent, either.
These days, with the notable exception of Barcelona, big clubs won’t make any kind of moves without dealing with the so-called super agents.
Those agents are making fortunes while they practically run the game, as they represent managers and coaches as well as players. And this can’t be good for football.
Youth team players have agents now, kids below them at the academy, too.
And this is where it starts getting really unhealthy.
Often as not, they will ask that senior players make the first approach to the kid’s parents.
I never felt comfortable doing it because I didn’t believe in my agent.
After the initial contact has been made, the agent will then get on to the kid’s parents.
They will ask the kid what his favourite boots are, then next day there’ll be boxes and boxes of that brand of gear turning up at the house.
Then if the kid really starts getting good the agents go to work on the parents.
“What car do you want? . . . No problem, will somebody be in to take delivery on Wednesday? And one for his mum, too?’”
A Life in Football: My Autobiography by Ian Wright is published by Constable on September 22 at £18.99