Catholic guilt and work ethic the secrets of my success says Arsene Wenger

arsene wenger

One of the world’s best soccer managers is crediting his Catholic upbringing and hard-working family values for his success.

Former Arsenal manager, Arsen Wenger, told BBC Radio 4, “Desert Island Discs” that he was driven to succeed in the high-pressure world of football because of his family’s deep Catholic faith and a legendary work ethic.

‘I think the impact for me was that you’re never completely happy because you never do well enough,’ he says.

‘The religion makes you feel always a bit guilty because the Catholic religion is like that.’

Wenger, who as a child attended Mass every day, says he was so desperate to please that he began to invent sins for his weekly confession.

“We had to confess every week and sometimes I learned to lie as well because I didn’t always remember what I did wrong,” he says.

“You came out fresh, you always felt, ‘Ok I have confessed now. God forgive me – I can start my life again.’ “

Wenger is still a practicing Catholic and describes himself as an optimist, and that optimism allows him to believe.

In 2013, he spoke in London’s Jewish Museum, and said belief is important in life.

“I am forever grateful for the values my religion has given, and basically if you analyse it, all the religions spread good values and positive values,” Wenger explained at the time.

“I prayed a lot when I was a kid because I was educated in a Catholic area,” he added.

“Religion was very strong to us, to ask the priest if I can play on Sunday afternoon … now I am a bit less [religious] because when you are under pressure you only think of our game. How can I win the next game? And you try to be a bit more pragmatic.”

“Belief is important, and I am forever grateful for the values my religion has given,” he said.

“And basically if you analyze it, all the religions spread good values and positive values, and that is important that you find that in our sport.”

Wenger, however, has some regrets about the family’s work ethic.

Wenger worked beside his parents, Alphonse and Louise, in their bistro, La Croix d’Or, and described how the demands of running a restaurant took their toll on family life.

“I wouldn’t advise anybody to open a bistro and have children. At the time there was no family life,” he says.

‘The bistro was open every day of the year. It closed only one day, from four o’clock in the afternoon until midnight. That was on Christmas Day because the village was dominated by religion. So that was no holiday.”


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