Arsene Wenger says Arsenal ‘left their soul’ at Highbury when they moved to the Emirates.
Wenger was Arsenal manager for their final decade at their old stadium, guiding them to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups between 1996 and 2006.
The Frenchman also led Arsenal for 12 years following their move to the Emirates, but could only add three further FA Cups to their collection during that time.
Wenger admits the club had to move to a bigger stadium, but misses what they left behind at Highbury.
He told beIN Sports: “You are always in a position when you are a football club to move forward or stay in the past. To compete with the other clubs, we had to build a new stadium. The rules had changed.
“We wanted to create the same as Highbury but we left our soul at Highbury. We could never recreate exactly. We didn’t find exactly the same atmosphere.”
Wenger’s final years at Arsenal were tainted by opposition from some supporters against his management.
‘Wenger Out’ placards were common among the home fans at the Emirates as Arsenal struggled to compete with their rivals at the top of the Premier League.
Wenger has only fond memories for the fans who frequented Highbury, though, saying: “For me, Highbury is linked with love. Love for the period I had, the exceptional attitude of the fans, the exceptional football games I witnessed there. It’s a special place in my heart.
“At the time, we were 40 people there, maximum. Today we are 600. We knew everybody. We have moved from a business family to a big company now.
“You sit on the touchline. The supporters are very close to the touchline. When you kick a corner you can shake the hand of the first supporter. That makes you all together on the pitch.
“That togetherness, that warm feeling that you get at Liverpool today, or Everton – that’s what you miss.”