Arsenal’s Abou Diaby: A lesson in perseverance

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Harrison, N.J.— When you get knocked down, you’re supposed to get right back up. In the metaphorical sense, Abou Diaby continues to do that as he tries to carve out an Arsenal career.

The French midfielder’s injury record is long and well documented. After having his leg broken by Sunderland’s Dan Smith, the injury setbacks have continued to pile up.

The 28-year-old has thought about hanging up his boots in the past, but he continues to forge ahead.

“Sometimes it crosses my mind, but my love for football is big so there is nowhere for me to quit. I’m still young and I have the opportunity to play again and have a good career,” he said after Arsenal’s friendly against the New York Red Bulls.

“I try to be positive all the time. I have a positive attitude and that’s helped me to come back each time.”

Diaby has played 45 minutes in a friendly against Boreham Wood before playing another 45 minutes at Red Bull Arena. Any time Diaby walks off the pitch without an injury is a positive sign.

He is feeling confident that this could be the year he puts a full season together and help his team on the pitch rather than supporting them from the sidelines.

“I’m really confident. I’m really optimistic as well. I’ve worked really hard for one year and even this summer so I’m sure it will be a good season,” said Diaby.

Arsene Wenger has used the term “like a new signing” to describe the lanky midfielder before and Diaby is well aware of it.

“Every year we say that, but most important is for me to be back and play again,” he said.

Last season, Arsenal won their first trophy since 2005; a year before Diaby joined the club. He had to watch the sheer joy of celebrations for his teammates as they lifted the FA Cup – a trophy he made no impact in winning.

“It’s difficult. I wanted to play and be on the pitch and share another victory with the other players. I’m happy for them because we’re a team and even if I wasn’t there I have to support my team. I was really happy for the players, for the club and for the fans as well,” Diaby said.

It has been a knee injury that has kept him out for 14 months until playing in the final Premier League match last season. After playing against the Red Bulls, he said the knee was feeling good. To remain on the pitch, he has been doing a similar type of rehab from the past, but dedicated a large portion of the summer on gaining fitness.

“A lot of fitness work to be ready for the preseason. That’s what I’ve done with most of my summer. It was good because I came back and now I feel good,” he said.

If he can stay healthy, he will add another element to the Arsenal midfield. He adds a physical element with his height combined with his comfort on the ball and his strong dribbling technique.

Getting a chance to partake in a title winning campaign, would be nothing less than a player who continues to go through heartbreak deserves. The Gunners have been extremely patient with Diaby, more so than other clubs may have been. Now it’s time for him to put it all together and reward that patience.

If he can help Arsenal lift a trophy, Diaby won’t just be a lesson in perseverance. He’ll be someone that beat the odds to be successful.

“I’m happy to be back and to play again,” said Diaby.

Now that is a little victory to build upon.

  • Andrew Bissonette

    I’d like to see RBNY make a run at him. He’s still young(relatively) and is EXACTLY what we need in our midfield.