Kolo Toure believes that his willingness to listen while playing alongside Sol Campbell at Arsenal was key to their on-pitch partnership.
Toure and Campbell were part of the team that made up the Invincibles during Arsenal’s infamous 2003/04 unbeaten season.
Together with Ashley Cole and Lauren either side, the Gunners only conceded 26 league goals and kept 20 clean sheets.
Toure reckons he knows why he and Campbell worked so well as a central defensive pairing.
“It was special [to be part of that squad],” the former centre-back told Arsenal Player. “I was one of the younger players, along with Ashley Cole. To be able to be around those experienced guys… they help you, they support you and for me that was amazing.
“I think the thing which helped me was my willingness to listen. I was able to take any feedback they gave me and was always 100 per cent there physically. I tried to have a fantastic life, to focus on my game and focus on the football and the club.
“A guy like Martin Keown didn’t play a lot, I took his position, but he always supported me and gave me advice all the time.
“Sol Campbell was a fantastic guy who was really strong in the air. The pairing was really good. Sol was great in the air and I was really fast along the ground.”
Kolo has now taken up a coaching role at Celtic after spending last season there as a player. While in Scotland, the 36-year-old made 17 appearances.
The centre-back left Arsenal in 2009 when he joined his younger brother Yaya at Manchester City. However, he couldn’t quite replicate the success he enjoyed at Arsenal. His game time dried up and he eventually signed for Liverpool in 2013, where he spent three years.
The Ivory Coast international, who was capped 120 times for his country, was a huge part of Arsenal’s line-up in 2003/04 and the Gunners’ current defence could learn a thing or two from his comments.
Listening to instructions on and off the pitch is key to a player’s development. They need to be able to take criticism when it’s deserved as well as dish it out.
Part of the reason Arsenal’s current squad, particularly their defence, often looks so clueless is because they don’t communicate and, unlike Toure and Campbell, don’t work to each other’s strengths and weaknesses enough.
At times, this Arsenal looks like 11 individuals all trying to do their own thing, occasionally barking orders into thin air, when in reality they should be all working together toward the same goal.