Wembley: Arsene Wenger admitted his happiness at winning the FA Cup was topped by the relief of ending the club’s frustrating wait for a major trophy on Saturday.
Wenger has now won the FA Cup five times as a manager — a joint record with former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson — and Arsenal’s match-winner, Aaron Ramsey, dedicated the trophy to the Frenchman.
Arsenal secured their first piece of silverware in nine years in the most dramatic of circumstances. Hull City scored twice in the first eight minutes with goals from James Chester and Curtis Davies, but Arsenal hauled themselves off the canvas with a spectacular free-kick from Santi Cazorla before half-time and a tap-in from Laurent Koscielny midway through the second half.
That forced the FA Cup final into extra-time, where Arsenal’s player of the season Ramsey ended an almost decade-long wait for silverware with a clinical finish from an Olivier Giroud back-heel.
“It’s a relief and happiness, because of course we were under severe pressure to win and didn’t start well,” said Wenger. “They started well, we were hesitant. We made a demonstration of how not to start a cup final, but we finished well.
“It’s a big moment of happiness, but the happiness is linked with the suffering caused by the amount of time you had to wait (for it), so it was a great moment.”
Ramsey insisted all Arsenal’s players felt they owed the Cup Final triumph to Wenger. He said: “The manager and players have been under a lot of pressure over the last couple of years, and this one’s for the manager, for the fans, who’ve always believed in us as well even when things weren’t going as well.
“We showed great strength and character to come back to win it. To score the winner in extra-time is something I’ve dreamed of for many, many years. It’s definitely up there with the most important goals I’ve ever scored. Hopefully this will be the first of many trophies in years to come.”
Wenger also paid tribute to his team’s “special spirit and togetherness” before suggesting this will hopefully by the first of a flurry of trophies they celebrate.
“It’s an important moment in the life of this team. To lose would have been a major setback, but to win gives us a major platform to come back even stronger next year. I’ve won the FA Cup five times and it’s not too bad. I’m in good company, it’s amazingly difficult.”
Wenger also reassured supporters that he will sign a new contract in the next few days. “That normally should happen and we are in very normal circumstances. It was never a question of leaving, it was a question of doing the right job for this club.”
For Hull, the defeat was an agonising one because they led for so long. “The one thing you have to be is gracious in defeat,” said Hull’s crestfallen manager Steve Bruce, his voice cracking with emotion during his post-match press conference.
“Arsenal are a fantastic club and how Arsene gets stick I do not know. The fella is a top-class manager who always puts together a top-class team and we say congratulations to Arsenal and Arsene.
“I always say you have to have your name on the Cup and for a while I thought our name was on it. We just fell short in the end, but I’m incredibly proud of the players.”