Arsene Wenger believes William Gallas always received "an exaggerated bad reputation" - and wished the former Arsenal captain all the best as he was set to complete a move to north-London rivals Tottenham.
The 33-year-old - who joined the Gunners as part of the deal which took England full-back Ashley Cole to Chelsea on deadline day in August 2006 - was a free agent after failing to agree terms on a contract extension at Emirates Stadium.
While few doubted his ability, French defender Gallas's temperament was debated.
He famously broke down in the centre circle at Birmingham February 2008 on the day Eduardo suffered his horrific broken leg.
Wenger also stripped Gallas of the captaincy, replacing him with Cesc Fabregas, for publicly questioning the character of the young Arsenal squad.
However, the Gunners boss maintained there were no lingering hard feelings.
"William has an exaggerated bad reputation. I believe that he is a genuine winner," said the Arsenal manager.
"He wants things not to be done at 90% and is completely focused and motivated to win.
"He can be sometimes, a little bit brutal or impulsive in his reaction - but when you are a manager, he is not someone who talks behind your back.
"William is somebody who is straight and is completely focused on the game. You respect that."
Wenger added: "The Spurs move is a surprise, but I can completely understand that.
"At the moment he looks for a club, he is free, he has chosen the best possible option for him.
"We are thankful for what he has done for us and we wish him good luck in his new club."Reuse content