Back in 2002 Arsenal signed Kolo Touré, and the defender went on to be part of the Gunners’ unbeaten league season, but it didn’t start out so promisingly.
Kolo came through the ranks with ASEC Mimosas in the Ivorian Ligue 1. Just before his 21st birthday, Touré managed to get a trial in North London, and a chance to impress Arsène Wenger.
But, in a particularly lively first impression, the centre-back managed to take out both of Arsenal’s star strikers, as well as the manager he was trying to stad out. Ray Parlour explained what happened next (via Mirror): “The triallist had taken out Henry, Bergkamp and the manager! Kolo was nearly in tears, his big day ruined.
“I went into the medical room and there was Arsene with an ice pack on his ankle. I said, ‘I don’t think he meant it’. He told me there and then, ‘We’re signing him tomorrow. I like his desire’.
“He knew he could get the best out of him and he went on to being a great player for the club.”
Kolo’s best position hadn’t been fully established at that stage, and he was therefore used in midfield and at full-back, before eventually moving to centre-back at the start of the 2003/04 season. Perhaps that was the best place for him given the show he’d made of his tackling skills. So it turned out anyway, as Touré and Sol Campbell didn’t lose a league game for more than a season, and became ‘invincibles’.
The 36-year-old managed to replicate that feat last season with Celtic, again going unbeaten, although Kolo didn’t play as big a part that time around. At the end of that season he retired, which rounds out his career in Britain nicely.