Kolo Touré

Kolo Habib Touré (born 19 March 1981) is an Ivorian footballer who plays for Liverpool and the Ivory Coast national team as a central defender. He previously played for Manchester City and Arsenal, where he was a member of the famous ‘invincibles’ side of the 2003–04 season. He is the elder brother of Manchester City’s Yaya Touré and Al-Nasr Benghazi‘s Ibrahim Touré.

Arsenal

Born in Bouake, Touré joined Premier League team Arsenal in February 2002 from ASEC Mimosas for a fee of £150,000 after a short trial. His status as a full international meant Touré was able to secure a British work permit. Touré did not make his debut for the first team until the next season, against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield in August 2002.[3] Initially regarded as a utility player, he started his Arsenal career as a defensive midfielder as well as in right back. He scored his first Arsenal goal at Stamford Bridge in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea.[4] Arsenal failed to retain the Premiership crown that season, but Touré made a big step in his career nonetheless, winning the FA Cup as an unused substitute in the final.
 
At the start of the 2003–04 season, Wenger began using Touré as a central defender alongside Sol Campbell. He formed a terrific partnership with Campbell and had a great season during which Arsenal were undefeated in the league, claiming the title. He, having previously been a striker or attacking midfielder, made a reputation for himself as being an attacking defender, although he only scored one goal and had one assist. Touré was in and out of the Arsenal team during the 2004–05 season, battling for a first team place with the likes of Philippe Senderos and Pascal Cygan to play alongside Sol Campbell in defence. Touré ended the season with a FA Cup winners medal playing 50 times for Arsenal that season and scoring one goal. His only goal of the 2004–05 season came in the 90th minute of Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League last 16 round tie against Bayern Munich of Germany. Arsenal lost the game 3–1.
 
Touré quickly established himself as one of the best centre backs in the Premier League.[citation needed] He established himself as a permanent fixture in the Arsenal starting XI and as a fan favourite. In the 2005–06 season, he established a formidable defensive partnership with Senderos. Both centre backs had immaculate form towards the end of the season, helping the Arsenal team reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final after keeping 10 consecutive clean sheets (a European competition record).
Touré scored his second European goal on 19 April 2006, the winner in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal CF. It was the final European goal scored at Highbury and the goal that effectively decided the tie (Arsenal won 1–0 on aggregate), to send Arsenal through to their first ever Champions League Final in Paris, France. Touré was handed the number 5 shirt for the 2006–07 season, which had been vacant since the departure of Martin Keown. In August 2006, Touré signed a new four-year deal with Arsenal worth around £70,000 a week.[citation needed]
 
Touré was the junior vice-captain in the 2006–07 season after former vice-captain Gilberto Silva and former captain Thierry Henry. He captained Arsenal for the first time on 9 January 2007 during a 6–3 victory over Liverpool in the League Cup. He also led the Gunners out for the final of this competition, having also captained them in the semi-final first leg against Tottenham Hotspur. He became the longest-serving member of the current Arsenal squad following the departures of Jérémie Aliadière, Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg during the summer transfer window in 2007. He also captained Arsenal in a string of games early in the 2007–08 season after captain William Gallas was injured in the game against Blackburn Rovers.
 
He scored a free kick in a match against Bolton Wanderers, where his shot was low and went under two Bolton players and beat Jussi Jääskeläinen. However, during the Africa Cup of Nations, he suffered an injury and looked a bit out of place when he returned and then injured himself again in the Champions League against A.C. Milan when he blocked Alexandre Pato‘s shot with his leg and was carried off the pitch after treatment. Touré returned to the starting lineup against Middlesbrough on 15 March and scored the equalising goal for Arsenal in the final 10 minutes. On 13 April 2009, Touré demanded a move away from Arsenal after a reputed bust-up with defensive partner Gallas. He reportedly handed in a transfer request which was later turned down by Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood.[5] However, Touré temporarily reversed his decision and committed to the Gunners at least until the summer.[6]
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