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Kolo Toure exclusive: “Slide-tackling Arsene Wenger changed my career. I was in a bit of shock, though…”

Kolo Toure and Arsene Wenger
(Image credit: Getty)

Former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure has spoken to FourFourTwo about the Gunners trial in which he fouled Arsene Wenger, plus what it was like to play for the club in such a golden era. 

Toure famously lost control while on trial with the Gunners, sliding in on Wenger, who was watching from the sidelines and leaving him in a collapsed heap on the ground. Rather than sending the Ivorian packing, however, the Arsenal boss signed a young Toure to the club, where he spent seven years before playing for Manchester City, Liverpool and Celtic.

"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 the March issue of FourFourTwo, out now

"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."

Kolo Toure, FourFourTwo March 2021

(Image credit: Future)

Toure became a key member of the Invincibles, starting the majority of games in Arsenal's 2003/04 title-winning campaign in the centre of defence alongside Sol Campbell. For a young midfielder, Toure says that the transition and his rise in game time came as a surprise to him. 

"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 says. "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."

Son Heung-min, Tottenham Hotspur, FourFourTwo March 2021

(Image credit: Future)

"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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