Wenger was born in Strasbourg and raised in Duttlenheim. He was introduced to football by his father, the manager of the local village team. After a modest playing career, in which he made appearances for several amateur clubs, Wenger obtained a manager's diploma in 1981. Following an unsuccessful period at Nancy which culminated in his dismissal in 1987, Wenger joined AS Monaco; the club won the league championship in 1988. In 1991, Wenger guided Monaco to victory in the Coupe de France, but their failure to regain the league title in later seasons led to his departure from the club by mutual consent in 1994. He briefly coached Japanese J. League side Nagoya Grampus Eight, which won the Emperor's Cup and Japanese Super Cup during his stint.
In 1996, Wenger was named manager of Arsenal and two years later the club completed a league and FA Cup double. He led Arsenal to appearances in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final and 2001 FA Cup Final, and a second league and cup double in 2002. Arsenal retained the FA Cup in 2003 and a year later regained the league title, becoming the first club to go through an entire league season undefeated since Preston North End, 115 years previously. The team later eclipsed Nottingham Forest's record of 42 league matches unbeaten and went seven more matches before losing in October 2004. Arsenal made their first appearance in a Champions League final in 2006, though they lost to Barcelona. In 2012, the club qualified for a 15th successive season in the Champions League, despite their worst start to a season for 58 years. During his tenure, Arsenal moved to a new training centre and relocated to the Emirates Stadium in August 2006, after 93 years at Highbury.
The nickname "Le Professeur" is used by fans and the British media to reflect Wenger's studious demeanour. His approach to the game emphasises an attacking mentality, with the aim that football ought to be entertaining on the pitch. Wenger's Arsenal teams are often criticised for their indiscipline; his players received 80 red cards between September 1996 and October 2010, though the team has won awards for sporting fair play. At Monaco, Wenger earned a reputation for spotting young talent, and he has remained focused on developing a youth system; his clubs develop young players instead of buying expensive, experienced ones. He has faced criticism for sticking closely to his principles, and football pundits have questioned his ambition to win trophies in recent years.