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How Toure Slide-Tackling Wenger Got Him Arsenal Contract

Former Ivorian international Kolo Toure has revealed that his desire to succeed as a professional footballer led him to slide-tackle Arsene Wenger during his trial in London.

Now assistant coach at Leicester City, Toure also tackled legendary Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, the moves that convinced Wenger to sign him from ASEC Mimosa in 2002.

Speaking to Four Four Two, the now-Leicester coach said: “I was really fortunate to be able to go to that trial.

“I spent two weeks there and, as you know, I put that tackle in on Arsene Wenger!

“But, you know, 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.

Arsene Wenger signed Kolo Toure for just £150,000
Arsene Wenger signed Kolo Toure for just £150,000Credit: AFP
Kolo Toure enjoyed seven successful seasons with Arsenal
Kolo Toure enjoyed seven successful seasons with ArsenalCredit: Reuters

“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.”

Wenger’s decision proved to be one of a genius as Toure helped inspire Arsenal to become one of the best sides in Europe.

Signed for just £150,000, Toure spent seven seasons with Arsenal winning the Premier League and two FA Cups.

He was also a Champions League runner-up after a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2006.

Legendary midfielder Ray Parlour brilliantly revealed how the first-team stars couldn’t believe Toure’s boldness during his trial.

He told talkSPORT last year: “I rolled the ball into Thierry Henry and Kolo Toure from nowhere has smashed him from behind. Two-footed tackle. Terrible tackle.

“Seriously, could have been a red card in a normal game. Our best player is rolling around.

“Arsene Wenger says ‘Kolo, what are you doing? Don’t tackle, don’t tackle.’ He just wants him to stand there. ‘Oh, sorry, sorry’.

“Next minute ball goes into Dennis Bergkamp, they’ve swapped now. Kolo Toure does exactly the same and two-foots Dennis Bergkamp and we are thinking ‘this is unbelievable.

“How can we win the league if our two best players has been taken out by the trialist?

“Arsene Wenger says ‘right no more tackling’.

“Next ball comes in and Kolo Toure makes a great tackle, reads it and the ball is flipped up into the air.

“Arsene Wenger used to stand right in the middle of the midfield and forwards and he’d try and look at the movement, so the ball has gone up in the air and Kolo Toure has his eye on the ball – he’s chasing the ball – and where did it land? Right at Arsene Wenger’s foot and he’s two-footed Arsene Wenger. Proper tackle.

“That afternoon, I remember going into the medical room to see Gary Lewin about something and Arsene Wenger is sitting there with a big ice pack on his ankle and I felt sorry for Kolo Toure. I said ‘boss, I don’t think he meant to kick you like that.

“He went ‘what? Look at my ankle’. And he had a big lump on his ankle. ‘Well he didn’t mean it boss’.

“He said ‘I know he didn’t mean it, I like his desire. We’ll sign him.”

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