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I may not have hung up my boots in 2018 if Joe Montemurro was at Arsenal

IF Joe Montemurro had arrived at Arsenal one year earlier, I may not have hung up my boots in 2018. 

It was an emotional day when Joe announced this week that he would be stepping down as manager at the end of this season after three years in charge. 

Joe Montemurro is leaving Arsenal to spend time with his family


Joe Montemurro is leaving Arsenal to spend time with his familyCredit: Getty

He’s doing it to recharge his batteries and spend more time with his family. 

Before he got the job I remember meeting him for the very first time in a Holiday Inn in Borehamwood with Arsenal’s Head of Women’s Football Clare Wheatley. 

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The club was going through a bumpy transition after Pedro  Martinez Losa left in 2017 and we had not lifted the league trophy in five years. 

I felt  anxious about who was going to lead the side, as I knew it was my last season before I retired. 

But as soon as I met Joe that day I  knew he was the man for the job. 

He radiates positivity and was incredibly devoted to the club, as a lifelong Gunners fan from Australia! 

I remember walking away from that Holiday Inn thinking, ‘wow, we’ve found our man’. 

I could tell he just knew how to move the women’s side forward. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I knew I was leaving Arsenal Women with an incredible, new leader. 

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It was a hard time for him to come in because players like me, who had lived and breathed the Gunners since I was eight years old, were retiring.

So Joe had to bring in fresh faces to keep up with  rivals Manchester City and Chelsea, while still upholding the Arsenal values. 

But he managed to do it perfectly and all the players had a new-found love for training. 

It was no surprise when he led the club to its first WSL title in seven years in 2019, then four cup finals and a Champions League quarter-final during three years. 

There has been a huge outpouring of love from the players on Twitter and Leah Williamson described him as “the definition of a good man”.

He wasn’t just a coach, he cared for the players, which is so  important in women’s football. 

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It’s a tough one to call as to who should take over when Joe officially leaves on May 31. 

Whoever is taking on the job needs to once again move the club forward because they are likely to end this season without a trophy.   

Also the new manager will need to keep the  senior star players  on board, as well as recruiting exciting  new faces.

But the main thing is we don’t want Arsenal Women to be left behind as the WSL goes from strength to strength. 

There’s no better time to get into women’s football, given the historic broadcasting deal with Sky Sports and the BBC. 

But Arsenal Women have got to bring trophies back to the club. 

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When I was a player we used to laugh about our glittering trophy cabinet, because every year we would either win the league, the FA Cup or the League Cup. 

So if the Gunners are coming away from this season without any silverware at all, then in my eyes they’ve got to do better.

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