Kolo Toure has thanked both Arsene Wenger and David Dein for their support during his six month ban from football.
The Ivorian international, who returned to first team action on Wednesday for the first time since being banned for testing positive for a banned substance, pinpointed the duo for their staunch backing in the face of his biggest career challenge and stressed that if it wasn’t for his former Arsenal manager he would never have made it as a top level player.
Toure swapped the Emirates for Manchester City in 2009 after seven years in North London where he established himself as one of the Premier League’s most consistent defenders. A fan favourite, the 30-year-old was an integral part of the ‘invincibles’ side of 2003-04 and also won two FA Cup medals with the Gunners.
“I want to thank two people who have been really important to me – David Dein and Mr Wenger,” Toure is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
“They have been supporting me and never let me down. I want to thank them very, very much.”
Signed from homeland side ASEC Mimosas, Toure was something of an unknown quantity when he began hurtling himself around the Highbury turf in 2002. However, after some careful schooling in ‘The Arsenal’ way he quickly developed from a utility player into a firm fixture in the heart of defence and hasn’t looked back since.
“I would never say a bad word about Mr Wenger. He is somebody that makes players better.
“I came from nowhere. I was in Africa and nobody believed in me. I had been at a lot of clubs that didn’t take me. This guy made me what I am now.”
Recognising the huge pressure which has been exerted on Wenger in recent weeks, Toure also made clear that he was sure his old mentor would one day return to the top of his game.
“This time is really hard for Mr Wenger but he is really strong and a very intelligent manager. It makes me feel a little sad because at the moment they are really unlucky and still play good football.
“I wish him all the best and know he will come out of this strong because he is definitely a top manager.”