Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira became one of Arsenal's greatest ever playersReuters

Arsene Wenger has revealed how he signed Patrick Vieira at Arsenal from the cusp of his transfer to Ajax in 1996.

The midfielder went on to become one of Arsenal's most decorated midfielders and among the best ever in the league during his stay in north London. The Frenchman won three League titles and four FA Cups in 279 appearances in all competitions.

Wenger revealed that Vieira was in Amsterdam talking to Ajax ahead of completing a move, but the manager talked to his agents and had him brought over to England the next day.

The 65-year-old, who will complete his 19th year in charge of Arsenal on Sunday revealed that he had his eyes on the midfielder during his time in Monaco, when Vieira, as a 17-year-old, had dominated Monaco in midfield while playing for Cannes.

The midfielder went on to complete nine fruitful years at the club before moving to Juventus in 2005. Vieira is regarded as among Arsenal's best signings during Wenger's tenure at the club and the Frenchman revealed that his legacy could have been written differently had he failed to sign him ahead of Ajax.

"I knew him very well because he played his first game with Cannes against Monaco in a post-season friendly," Wenger told Arsenal's official website.

"He played against one of my players who was quite tough and he dominated him physically. He was 17 years old at the time and I said after the game that this player would make a big career. I wasn't wrong there.

"I had a big hand in [signing him], yes. I did it from Nagoya. I think he trusted me because when I called him on the phone, he was in Amsterdam to sign for Ajax.

"He was in Holland, he was there to sign but I knew his agents. I spoke to Patrick and said, 'Please, stop. Come to Arsenal.' They were waiting at a hotel to go to the headquarters of the club to sign and I could just stop it. The next morning, he flew from Amsterdam to London.

"My whole history could have changed [without convincing him to join Arsenal]. That's the coincidence and the luck in life. I just had the right luck to intervene at the right moment," he added.