Kolo Toure plays as a defender for the Ivory Coast national side and for Arsenal in the English Premier League. His power, pace and vision have long made him a difficult defender to play against. He reads the game well and saves the team’s blushes on a number of occasions. He was originally taken to Arsenal as an Attacking Midfielder, but Arsene Wenger spotted that Toure had the natural ability and qualities to be a superb centre-back. He has played in the Ivory Coast first-team since he was 19, and continues to show great leadership on the pitch and off it.
Kolo Toure was born on 19th March 1981 in Bouake, Ivory Coast. He was one of many children in the family, and regularly enjoyed playing football in the dusty streets with his brothers, and all that practice paid off – younger brothers Yaya Toure and Ibrahim both play professionally too. He signed up to an academy associated with ASEC, which had close links with Arsenal.
Kolo Toure flourished in the academy. He could have chosen to head to Belgium (ASEC had links with Beveren that later took Emanuel Eboue to Belgium) but decided instead to stay in the Ivory Coast. He was first-choice for both ASEC and the Ivory Coast national side, and was keen only to move to a big club.
Toure was taken on trial by Arsenal in January 2002, and signed for the north London club a month later, once Arsene Wenger had been satisfied by Toure’s amazing work-rate and attitude.
Kolo made his debut for Arsenal at the start of the following season, having had a chance to adapt to the pace of the Premier League. He started off as an attacking midfielder, and slowly became Arsenal’s utility man, playing himself into the side in any midfield or defensive positions, but making no position his own as Arsenal romped to the Premier League title.
The following season, Toure was handed the centre-back role alongside Sol Campbell, and performed admirably as Arsenal became the first team to manage a whole season unbeaten, and earned the ‘invincibles’ tag.
Toure’s power and technical ability helped Arsenal to win the 2005 FA Cup, and make it to the 2006 Champions League Final. Toure was the stand-in captain once Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira had left the club, and he proved himself as a great leader.
Kolo Toure has played international football since his first call-up in 2000 as a leggy 19 year old. He helped the Ivory Coast to their runners up spot in the African Cup of Nations, playing every game, and was also ever-present in the ill-fated World Cup 2006 campaign. His positional sense and ability make him one of Ivory Coast’s key performers.