By Shamsudeen Sani
Author: Arsene Wenger
Date of publication 2020
Prior to reading this book, I vaguely had an idea of who is Arsene Wenger because of my little or no attachment to football. I admit it is not easy being surrounded left, right, and center by football enthusiasts, especially in the social media age. They do not make life very easy. But hold it there, although this book is around football, it is definitely not about football!
Arsene Wenger beautifully recounted a life from a very humble beginning at his village in the north-eastern France to a fulfilled career. In an eloquent manner, he relayed vivid tales of an uncommon childhood filled with modesty, hard work, resourcefulness, and sheer grit. His life from that simple but eventful background offers invaluable lessons for the young generation to cash on.
Author’s life reflections were subtly arranged into segmental narratives starting from a childhood dream and realizing one of becoming a full pledged footballer and subsequently achieving an amazing career growth across different geographies. At each of these locations, he displayed an uncommon commitment to his vision that entails facing stark failure and learning from it which eventually prepared him for career medals and fulfillment. The author carefully depicted the larger than life lessons and interactions of his football career at Cannes and Nancy, Monaco, Japan and Arsenal FC in the UK.
One fascinating nugget for all business managers that I got from this book was the way Arsene Wenger passionately described his players in a very colorful and kindest language! Listen to him describe one of his players, Robert Pires, ‘’…. he had an incredible technique, he was smart, a finisher. He was a killer with a smile, the gentlest man in the world who would suddenly drive the ball exactly where it was needed….’’. This book succinctly captures how real managers should behave even in the gory face of failure. Wenger reaffirms his conviction of refusal to believe in the notion of whoever does not come first or doesn’t win should be left feeling nothing. Hear him ‘’…God knows I like winning but what we wanted was to win while respecting our values…’’
Damn! This book is a heck of a string of motivational and inspiring speeches wound up together as an autobiography. The storylines were carefully designed to suck the reader deep into the abyss of waiting for more. It should be read by all business managers and administrators wanting to improve their managerial skills and infuse career advancement techniques and pro-active growth into their organizations.
This book was originally written in French but wonderfully translated into English by Daniel Hahn and Andrea Reece who are eminent translators from the UK.