Armand Traoré: Talentspotter

We got the low-down on the then-Arsenal defender, who enjoyed loan spells with Portsmouth and Juventus before joining QPR, in August 2007. 

Born
Paris, 08/10/1989

Club
Arsenal

Position
Left-back.

Nickname
Tré. The other boys made it up and I don’t mind it.

Club supported as a boy
Paris St Germain. I went to games all the time and stood with the Auteuil (an ultra style group) behind the goal. They are mainly working class people from the suburbs. We made a lot of noise and my favourite song was ‘Paris Magic.’ My favourite player was Ronaldinho – he was the man. I was sad when he left for Barcelona.

Strengths
Speed and power.

Weaknesses
Defensive positioning and my right foot.

I play a bit like…
Eric Abidal, first choice left-back at Lyon. He’s the new Lizarazu, although it will be impossible for him to win as many medals as Lizarazu. I was also compared to Patrice Evra, who came through the same youth system as me at Monaco.

Highlight
Beating Liverpool 6-3 at Anfield in the Carling Cup this year and doing so well. Or playing in the Carling Cup final against Chelsea. That was a great experience,even though we lost. I love the stadiums in England because they’re always noisy. Only PSG fans make a lot of noise every week in France.

Lowlight
I was homesick when I arrived in England and missed my family. I didn’t speak English, but I’m settled now and I like London. It’s like Paris in many ways – huge and very cosmopolitan.

Best player played with
There are a lot at Arsenal, but I’d say Thierry Henry. We’re both from Paris, played for Monaco and are now at Arsenal so we have a lot in common. Although we play in different positions, he gives me good advice. I just listen; I don’t think there’s anything I can tell the best striker in the world.

Toughest opponent
Aaron Lennon or Didier Drogba. Lennon’s combination of technique and speed makes him difficult to mark, while Drogba is so strong that you can’t get near him. He always backs into you and you can’t get the ball.

Biggest influence
My dad. He is my role model. He played for Racing Club in Paris when they were rivals to PSG. He was also a Senegalese international so he knows what he’s talking about.

Best advice given
Nothing specific, but Arsene Wenger told me that he is happy with me and that Ihad to keep working hard. I appreciated that.

Most embarrassing moment
I had a game for France’s Under-18 when everything went wrong. Whenever I touched the ball it went in the wrong direction. I couldn’t tackle or head and nothing went right. I’m the only player in the team who plays for anon-French club, so I’m not sure what people were thinking about me. Thankfully, that poor game was a one-off and I’ve done well since.

Biggest joker
Emmanuel Eboué. He’s got a great sense of humour. Because of the cosmopolitan nature at Arsenal, we don’t do British things like cut each others’ pants up and hide shoes. We have a laugh, but when it’s time to work, we work.

Best friend in football
Mark Randall, we’ve come through together at Arsenal and he’s a good midfielder. I share a house with him.

Wheels
I drive an Audi A3, but I would like a BMW six series or a Mercedes ML.

Chicks
Eva Mendes. She’s sexy.

Flicks
300 is the best film I’ve seen recently. I liked its look and style.

Holidays
I love Senegal. It has great beaches, weather and people. Dakar, the capital, is a chaotic place, but a wonderful city. Patrick Vieira and Patrice Evra were both born there.

Latest iPod download
Soprano. He is a Marseille rapper who has crossed the rivalry between the Parisian and Marseille rap scene, which is very big in France. A lot of the Arsenal boys like him.

Tell us something about you we don’t know
I’m a Muslim. I’m lazy.

TV programmes
The OC on Channel 4. It’s easy to watch.

With my first pay packet I bought
I gave most of it to my parents, which was the least I could do after all they’ve done for me. Then I spent the rest of clothes, mainly D&G.

Describe yourself in five words
Funny, not-arrogant, chilled, honest and determined.

If I hadn’t been a footballer
I don’t have a clue. Maybe I’d be working in a clothes shop in Paris.

If you could play alongside any player…
Zinedine Zidane. He's the all-time greatest footballer ahead of Pele and Maradona. He’s my idol and I watched the film about him. It’s alright, but a bit boring.

In five years time I’ll be…
Playing in the Arsenal first team every week and winning trophies.

From the August 2007 issue of FourFourTwo. 


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