Ex-Arsenal man Tomas Rosicky: Arsene Wenger helped me through injury hell
Former Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky has echoed Santi Cazorla's praise for the way Arsene Wenger stood by him during his many injury layoffs.
Cazorla has credited Wenger with helping him get through nearly two years of surgeries and rehab work on his damaged heel, and told The Guardian last week that he was "eternally grateful" for the way the former Arsenal boss gave him a contract extension even though he couldn't play.
Rosicky, whose 10-year Arsenal career was also hampered by numerous injuries, said Wenger was always unwavering in his support when he was on the sidelines as well.
"It was the same with me when I struggled with my problems," Rosicky said. "He was very supportive even though it was difficult for him.
"I'm glad I could have worked with him for such a long time. He's a big role model."
Rosicky, who returned to Sparta Prague in 2016 before retiring as a player last season, was back wearing an Arsenal shirt at the Emirates on Saturday as he played in a legends game against Real Madrid.
It was clear the midfielder remains a fan favourite in North London, as the crowd gave him the loudest ovation of the day when he was taken off near the end.
"I think what they liked about me always was that I stayed loyal through the difficult times and I always gave everything on the pitch for the Arsenal badge," Rosicky said. "So I think they recognise it, and I'm glad they recognise it, because that's how it was from my side."
Rosicky is still getting used to life away from football, but said there are positive aspects to retirement as well.
"I do miss the game," he said. "When I watch the games I would still like to play.
"But what I don't miss is the daily routine of training. I don't miss that at all."
And while he admitted it was a bit strange to be at the Emirates without seeing Wenger, who stepped down as Gunners boss in May, he said the Frenchman's shadow still looms large over the club.
"He means a great deal here and I don't think it's possible to avoid him here," Rosicky said. "Because you can see him.
"Someone like me who spent so much time with him, you can see him in here everywhere. Because you have seen him here so many times, it's not possible to come in here and not think about him."
The former Czech Republic international said he exchanged text messages with Wenger over the summer but hasn't seen him face to face since the Frenchman ended his 22-year reign at the club. Rosicky also urged fans to be patient with Wenger's successor Unai Emery, who has led the team to two wins and two losses to start the season.
"It's the start of something very new," he said. "So we have to be patient. There are some positives, some negatives, which is normal. We have to get used to it.
"And we would all like to see the team grow. The team is scoring goals which is important, even in difficult games like Chelsea away.
"So there are a lot of positives, and obviously a lot of negatives as well because the team is conceding also.
"But Unai Emery is a very experienced guy who was successful everywhere he has been, so I trust him and I hope he will do well and that we will see the team grow and develop."