"There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub," said Arsenal FC manager at our football-business conference, Touchline to Boardroom. As a young boy, Wenger was raised in the family pub/restaurant La Croix d’Or in Duttlenheim. There, he would mingle with locals, talk football and observe the effects of alcohol on the pub’s customers. The experiences left a lifelong impression: "When you are five or six years old, you meet all different people and hear how cruel they can be to each other. From an early age, you get a practical, psychological education to get into the minds of people. "It is not often that a boy of five or six is always living with adults in a little village. I learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub – who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team." Fundamentally, Wenger was convinced that booze should never touch the lips of a professional footballer. Throughout his managerial career, he has been known for his cutting-edge thinking about nutrition and player fitness. Wenger also described the key characteristics that a top player, and individual, must possess in order to succeed: "Everyone must have an objective assessment of their performance," he said. If one of his players gives the manager a good analysis of his performance after a game, Wenger believes they have a future. However, those players who play a stinker and then insist they were on form, stand little chance in Wenger’s mind. Persistence is the other vital quality in any top performer, said Wenger. Playing football at the highest level exposes what you really are as a person, said Wenger. So he tries to detect a player’s innate qualities from the very start. His observation was shared by former Crystal Palace and QPR manager Iain Dowie, who explained that Australian rugby league clubs will routinely interview potential players’ primary school teachers to pick up any character flaws. More on Wenger and other Touchline to Boardroom highlights to come. Great coverage of Archie Norman’s contribution to the event on the BBC website by business reporter Bill Wilson.
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