Current Olympique de Marseille and former Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby spoke openly with a reporter about the struggles that he endured during his tenure at the Emirates—the longest stint of his professional football career. The thirty year old made one hundred and twenty five appearances for Arsenal over nine years that were marred by numerous injuries.
In the interview, Diaby stated that recovering from injury is often an incredibly lonely process. He recalled how his first major injury was with Arsenal in 2006, an injury that “brought about other muscle problems that prevented my progression. Because otherwise, honestly, I think I have always had a healthy lifestyle.” After this initial injury Diaby remarked that it was challenging to watch the team from the stands and that he felt a stronger connection with the team physicians instead of his teammates. Even though the number of injuries he sustained resulted in his release from Arsenal in 2015, Diaby has still been motivated to continue his playing career.
To this day, Diaby is not upset about how his time as a Gunner ended. He spoke about how forty-two injuries as an Arsenal player and an extended time out of the line up would be difficult for any player to overcome. Since he joined Marseille, he has learned to shut out the opinions of critics and fans so that he could focus on getting fit. He prioritized his desire to succeed over the frustration that he felt.
The representative from France Football compared Diaby’s playing career to Tom Hanks in the film Castaway, insinuating that injuries can often make a player feel like an outsider. Diaby rejected this sentiment stating that he feels fulfilled by the work that he engages in. He felt that recovering from injury, while it often requires time away from the team, is necessary to continue that work. Diaby said he intends to keep playing until he feels that it is no longer possible. When he reaches that point—either due a personal decision or a doctor’s—he hopes to continue work with the foundation he created. He also said that
“Humanitarian work interests me too. For the Southern countries but also in the Paris region where I preside over an association that works with youngsters.”
Since Abou left Arsenal he has made five appearances for Marseille. He debuted earlier this year in March but has been sidelined with another ankle injury since October. At thirty years old, he should be able to continue playing for several years once he is healthy again (barring any devastating injuries). Hopefully, in the coming years at Marseille Diaby will be healthier than he ever was at Arsenal. Thankfully, it seems that he will have plenty of great work to keep him occupied once his playing career is finished.