July 31, 2021

‘Slide-tackling Wenger changed my career’ – Arsenal great Kolo Toure

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The Leicester City assistant manager looked back at how he became a Gunner, which he attributed to his nervy trials

Kolo Toure has disclosed his tackle on former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger changed his professional career.

The former Cote d’Ivoire international was scouted from Asec Mimosas before his invitation to England for a trial with the Gunners.

During his auditions, Toure hacked down star players Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, and launched a two-footed tackle on Wenger.

Thinking that his career was over, Wenger went ahead to sign the youngster, where he became a cog in the Arsenal set-up for seven years.

The Leicester City assistant manager recalled that incident while claiming it changed his career for good.

“I think that slide-tackle changed my career. It showed the manager just how much I wanted to be successful, and how much I wanted to become a professional footballer. That’s how he took it, anyway,” Toure told FourFourTwo.

“All the players were laughing and I was in shock! I thought they were going to get rid of me there and then.

“But Arsene is an intelligent guy: he only saw a young African boy who was keen to impress him, and gave me that opportunity to express myself and show what I was capable of doing.”

He was a key member of the Invincibles, featuring in most of Arsenal’s games in the 2003-04 title-winning season. Aside from that, he won two FA Cup titles, two Community Shields, and was part of the squad that finished as runners-up in the 2005-06 Champions League.

For Toure, who started his career as a midfielder, his transition into a centre-back and rise to stardom came as a surprise to him, not forgetting the roles the senior players played in his development.

“I had no idea. I was a young player at the club and it was a huge step up, but I took my chance,” he continued.

“I was playing every match like it was the last one for me, giving everything. To play for Arsenal at this time was a big, big thing, and I wanted to show that I was capable of coping with the challenge.

“The older guys were incredible with me. I’ve played in many teams and at many clubs, but I’ll always remember that Arsenal team: big-game players, but great guys as well. I’ll never forget that.

“I’ve found that the players who have achieved the most in their careers are actually some of the most humble.

“My big brothers, I call them. Someone like Dennis Bergkamp: what a guy – so dedicated, and such a great role model every day to be the best you can be.”

Toure left for Manchester City in 2009 for a fee worth £14 million. Four seasons later, he joined Liverpool before teaming up with Celtic, where he drew the curtain on his trophy-laden career.