Former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure says his slide-tackle on former boss Arsene Wenger during a trial period changed the course of his career. Toure went on to spend seven years with the Gunners, racking up more than 200 league appearances, but he arrived at the club as a mere trialist. During his trial, Toure held nothing back, putting in big challenges on first-team stars and even then manager Wenger, who was on the other end of a two-footed challenge from Toure. That’s something that might have cost some players their chance of being signed, but that wasn’t the case for Toure, who, in that moment, showed his new boss just how much desire he had to make it with the Gunners.
Kolo Toure said: “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. 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. 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 added when asked if he felt the impact of Arsenal’s success at the time. 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.”
Kolo Toure added: “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.”
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