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The Challenge That Ruined Abou Diaby's Career Remains An Absolute Disgrace

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The Challenge That Ruined Abou Diaby's Career Remains An Absolute Disgrace

The shocking tackle that effectively ruined Abou Diaby's career many years ago did not even receive a red card and remains a disgrace to this day.

Signed from Auxerre for £2 million, the French midfielder was an incredibly gifted box-to-box midfield player who looked to be the heir to Patrick Vieira's throne.

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He was technically sublime and produced some special moments in Arsenal colours. But Diaby was constantly hampered by injuries throughout his career.

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Image: PA
Image: PA

In fact, he suffered a staggering 42 injuries during his time at the club - including damage to his ACL ligament, five thigh muscle strains,11 calf strains, two sprained ankles, three hamstring injuries and a concussion.

And it was one injury in particular that he never recovered from back in 2006. In stoppage time of a 3-0 win away at Sunderland, Diaby intercepted the ball and passed it to Emmanuel Eboue on the right.

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But as he did, Dan Smith jumped in recklessly and connected right on his ankle. It was a truly shambolic challenge and yet somehow he was only shown a yellow card by referee Dermot Gallagher.

Diaby had to go off on a stretcher and was forced to have three different surgeries and eight months work of rehab.

Arsene Wenger was understandably furious on the sideline and basically said the tackle was a form of assault and not an attempt for the ball, even talking about taking legal action against Smith.

"If you do that to a guy in the street you go to jail," Wenger said post-match.

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"The guy who harms you in life has to be punished. I am very upset and very disappointed with the tackle. Having watched it again I just feel I will not leave this case there because there was bad intention in the tackle.

"There was only one intention in this tackle - to hurt the player - and it's a career-threatening tackle. I will take legal advice to see how far I can go."

Diaby was an Arsenal player for 3,339 days and spent [46.5 percent] of that time on the sidelines before leaving for Marseille in 2015.

He retired in 2019 at the age of 32 after only playing 214 senior games.

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Image: PA
Image: PA

Smith, meanwhile ended up playing for a slew of Non-League teams and in Australia towards his career.

He apologised to Diaby but in an interview published years later, claimed it was just a "late challenge' and that "you can not say he missed his life because of this injury".

"I never meant to hurt anyone, I never intended to hurt," Smith said, as per Tribal Football.

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"The referee saw it clearly, I did not receive a red card, I do not even remember if I was warned. It was just a late challenge, that you see every weekend. There is one chance in a million that there is a serious injury. He had the ball when I was already running.

"I have compassion for him, it was not easy, he has had a lot of injuries since. But if you take all of his career, you can not say he missed his life because of this injury. The last time I checked, he still earned 60,000 pounds a week while I work full-time in Australia."

Topics: Sunderland, Arsene Wenger, Premier League, Arsenal

Josh Lawless
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