We’d seen him training, but even here at Cannon Towers, where we are massive fans, we didn’t imagine this day would ever truly come.

ABOU DIABY PLAYED ACTUAL FOOTBALL!

The midfielder returned to action for the first time in 18 months when he turned out for Marseille on Friday night as they lost 5-2 at home to Rennes.

He came off the bench in the 78th minute when the game was already lost.

Speaking ahead of the game, Diaby said “I have never been so close to a return. I feel good.

“At the moment, all of the lights are green for me. I am ready to play.

“My last match was in September 2014. For three years I have been toiling. It is time to put it behind me. I need to rediscover passion and enjoyment.

“I am lucky to be able to play football at the highest level.”

Here are his highlights from his comeback game:

So happy!

He completed 10 of his 13 passes, won 2/2 duels and had 2 successful dribbles.

The most important stat, however, is that he suffered 0 injuries (that have been reported).

After the game, his manager, Michel, who was asked if he would be resigning in wake of the result (he won’t), said of Diaby “I brought him into play because he is an available player. He was in the group and able to play for about 15 minutes.”

He wasn’t really in the mood to talk, it seems.

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Please let this be the start of many years injury-free.

If ever a player deserved that, it’s Abou Diaby.

[Main photo via Official Marseille website]