Centreback Laurent Koscielny has been speaking to the Official FA Website about his ‘unusual‘ career and how he never thought he would play for a team like Arsenal.
When Arsenal signed a young defender from Lorient in 2010, many weren’t entirely sure who or what we’d just bought. However, after making over 200 appearances for the club, I think it’s fair to say Koscielny doubters are now few and far between.
The Centreback came to professional football relatively late. “My career is unusual. I arrived in professional football when I was 18. I didn’t play for the France youth teams,” he said.
“I never thought I would be here today at this club,” he added proudly.
The 29-year-old also revealed how Centre Back wasn’t his original position and in his early days at previous clubs, he was moved around the back four repeatedly to try and not only make room for other players but to find what worked best for him. His speed meant he was useful as a Full Back so he didn’t play very often in the centre.
“I started with Guingcamp, in the second division. But it was hard. The chairman bought a lot of players to play in the first division, who had lots of experience. I played at left wing-back, right-back or left-back and very few times at centre-back. It just wasn’t me,” he said.
He then described his demeanor when he was younger and it was slightly different to what it is now. “I was gentle then,” he admitted. “Quiet in my life and on the pitch, but when I left the club I changed.”
Saying this, I wouldn’t describe Koscielny’s style as ‘aggressive‘ now. Not in a violent or unnecessary sense. Hes strong, for sure, and not exactly gentle, but he’s not reckless either.
Koscielny went on to explain his reason behind leaving his first club, saying, “I took a gamble – I found a good club and a coach who believed in me. I had more money at Guingcamp but it wasn’t about the money. I wanted to play in my position and get more experience, so I joined a team who had ambition to get promoted to the second division. We finished second and went up, we stayed together, and continued to progress. After I played lots of games and that brought me the experience and confidence I needed.”
From that moment, the defender’s rise was rapid and before long, Arsenal came calling.
“I signed for Lorient and worked with the coach [Christian] Gourcuff who had worked with a lot of players from the second division and improved them.
“Then after one year Arsenal came. The chairman said ‘yes, you can go but the price will be very high’. I said: ‘this is my only chance’.
“For the French, Arsenal is the 19th club of the French League. I said: ‘The train passes only one time, and after that I don’t know if it will ever happen again’.”
Recalling his first game for Arsenal, the Centre Back says, “I remember my first game at Anfield – August 2010. The noise was unbelievable, and I had just played one season in the First Division in France. I think I played well but I received two yellow cards. I think it was harsh. But I’ve got better because I have worked hard and played a lot of games.”
Football aside, Kos genuinely does seem happy over here and appears to really love the club. Speaking about his life here, he revealed, “My family are happy here. My children are English – they were born here. Sometimes I learn English from my daughter because she is better than me. She speaks with an English accent.”
He also seems incredibly humble, despite his meteoric rise under Arsene Wenger – another aspect of his personality that makes him endearing and a fan favourite. He doesn’t have an ego, he just quietly gets on with the job he needs to do and does it well.
“Maybe I don’t have the talent of a big player,” he said. “I just try to be myself, work, and improve my quality. But then all the best players are the same. Cristiano Ronaldo – he works a lot too. He always wants more. He scores 50 goals one season and then the next he wants 60. I’m the same – I work hard because I want more. If you want to be better you need to work.”
About the all-important match on Saturday against Aston Villa, he said, “I just want to win more trophies with Arsenal. I am happy here – it is my fifth season and I have a long contract. But I will never stop working hard. I believe in me, and it is difficult to predict what you can achieve in life.”
We believe in you too, Laurent.