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

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

Abou Diaby was never the same player after the shocking tackle from Sunderland's Dan Smith.

Josh Lawless

Josh Lawless

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.

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

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.

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.

"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.

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.

"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."

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Topics: Sunderland, Arsene Wenger, Premier League, Arsenal