Kolo Toure signs for Man City...my memories of a true Arsenal legend

News is just breaking that Kolo “Raging Bull” Toure has now passed a medical and signed for Manchester City. The deal thought to be a four year contract and the transfer fee a rumoured 16 million pounds.
The official announcement can be seen here.
I first saw Kolo at Highbury when he came on as a substitute in midfield. He caused havoc with his energetic runs. He never stopped. His perfomances were consistent and when he finally became an established member of the team, several Gooners were struck dumb when later he was converted to a centre back. A stroke of genius by Wenger. He didn’t moan, he just got on with the job next to Sol Campbell.
It was as a centre back that he will be remembered and also as the “black” Mr Arsenal. He was always encouraging the team to do better. I cannot recall a single occasion when I had a negative feeling for the player. Even his headed own goal in I think the season 2002/3 when we blew a five point lead at the top of the Premier league and failed to retain the title, courtesy of draws coming from own goals at Bolton and Aston Villa with Martin Keown’s effort more spectacular than Kolo’s, I still loved the player. it seemed like an eternity before he got his own song, and his smile was infectious.
I recall seeing him again at Highbury one European evening, when Arsenal were being battered by a foreign side, Kolo was playing in defence, and appeared to be the only player trying to provide resistance. Then came the moment, the opponents striker seemed certain to score as he broke away onto a through ball that caught our back four flat footed and square. The mighty Kolo outsprinted him and slid sideways along the turf collecting the ball from behind with his inside shin, just inside the penalty area whilst cleverly shielding the ball at the same time, he then got up and passed the ball out to midfield for the Gunners to mount a counter attack.
These moments and many others will live long in my memory, of Kolo Toure, a wonderful servant of Arsenal football club. In Season 2005/6, he was the best defender in the Champions League, and will hold forever the record of scoring the last ever european goal at Highbury, when he scored the goal that ultimately helped us get past the Yellow Submarine at Highbury in the first leg and through to the Champions League final in Paris. As the years of unselfish service took their toil, he became a more thoughtful player having lost that yard of pace, and became our utility defender. He was proud as our vice captain and even more proud on the odd occasions when he wore the captains armband.
I wish you luck Kolo, and express my thanks for all of your sincere efforts for the club. you were a model professional footballer, who never moaned, who got on with the job. Even after your attack of malaria last year, you just trained back to fitness and did the best that you could. You played where ever the boss asked you, and even when rumours of a spat between yourself and Gallas emerged, you remained silent and played with dignity. If only other players could follow your example. Oh how we will miss you. I salute you… a true Arsenal legend!

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