I still remember Kolo's debut season, the dates and the opposition don't immediately spring to mind, what stands out in my memory is the amazing enthusiasm that this young lad from the Ivory Coast showed every time he pulled on an Arsenal shirt. He started out as a bit part player, sometimes on the wing and sometimes at full back, he was initially rash, his raw enthusiasm sometimes getting the better of him as he scythed down members of the opposition in a rather reckless manner. However one thing that can be sure is that from those early moments Kolo gained a special place in our Arsenal hearts.
Kolo's enthusiasm was the reason he became a fantastic centre back for us, he worked prodigiously hard to make the best of his talents, those being his raw pace and athleticism, not forgetting his fairly decent right foot. He really came into his own when he partnered Sol Campbell in the 2003/4 season, personally I remember his outstanding performance in the Charity Shield that year, it set the tone for a brilliant season. Campbell was the big strong organiser, while Kolo mopped up the bits, it was a fantastic partnership and mix of abilities.
There have been many great moments since, the nearly Champions League final, the nearly League titles, an FA Cup and much much more than can be put down in words and numbers. He gave away the penalty that saw Liverpool knock us out of the Champions League at Anfield, Kolo was conned by the cheating Babel, how close King Kolo came to bringing the biggest Club trophy of all back home.
The Kolo Toure that we have seen in recent months has not been the Kolo Toure I wish to remember, he has been a shadow of his former self, injuries have certainly not helped, a falling out with William Gallas also played its part, he has looked overweight and unusually cumbersome, slow on the turn and indecisive, most definitely not the Kolo of old. He is now 28 and appears to be well down the pecking order of centre backs at the club, so who can blame him for wanting first team football and a decent pay packet as part of his last big contract.
As it now looks like you're on the verge of joining City I'd like to say a big thanks for the memories King Kolo, you have served the club with great commitment and unparalleled enthusiasm. I will always remember you as that young winger who flew into tackles as if there was no tomorrow, there was always a smile on your face, that's why you got away with yellow cards when the tackles merited reds, it was obvious to even the referee that you are a lovely genuine chap. Thanks and good luck King Kolo.