Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger visited Arsenal in 1989Getty

Arsene Wenger has revealed that contrary to popular belief, his move to Arsenal in 1996 was not the first time that the manager had set foot in Gunners territory.

The Frenchman explained that he had made the trip to Highbury on January 2, 1989 en route to France from Turkey where he had gone to scout their opponents Galatasary in the Champions League.

With England the only country still active in the league, Wenger decided to take a detour and get his first taste of English football at its very best.

The Gunners went on to win the league title in historic fashion at Anfield later in the year and Wenger mused about how he fell in love with English football and Highbury on his first visit and harboured dreams of being a part of it at a future date.

Wenger, who was the manager of Monaco during that period, shall have a homecoming of sorts as his present side take on his past in the round of 16 tie of the Champions League. It is Arsenal's best chance to qualify for the quarter finals, having failed to do so in their previous four attempts against more distinguished opponents.

"I remember the first time I visited Highbury, I was on my own and it was January 2, 1989," Wenger told the Arsenal website.

"I had been in Turkey two days earlier watching Monaco's next opponents in the European Cup and I had to fly back on January 1, but I saw that in England they play football at that time of year so I decided to fly back from Ankara to France via London to watch a game first.

"I immediately thought that football in England was great. There was a fantastic atmosphere at Highbury and I just wondered 'is everywhere like this? - even at that time I thought it would be great to be part of that.

"Obviously on that day I could never imagine that I would come back one day as manager, it was not even in my head. It was just a coincidence because on that day I first met [former vice-chairman] David Dein and from then on we developed a friendship," he concluded.