Wilshere and Gibbs talk up return of Arsenal cult hero

Gunners duo relishing the chance to reunite with 'happy guy' Eboue…

Arsenal's annual pre-season tournament, the Emirates Cup, signals the penultimate chance Arsene Wenger gets to provide his Gunners with a friendly work-out against a clutch of strong teams prior to the Premier League season's genesis.

However, this summer, it also marks the return of former fan favourite Emmanuel Eboue, now of Galatasaray. The Ivory Coast international achieved cult fame for his histrionic behaviour and infectious sense of humour at Ashburton Grove, something he has maintained regardless of whether he is on international duty (he once pretended to understand Korean) or club duty in Turkey (where he once pulled a team-mate's shorts down while he tried to give an interview).

'He was a special character,' reflected midfielder Jack Wilshere to the Official Matchday Programme, as quoted by the club's website. 'He was good around the dressing room. Even if he was upset that he wasn't playing, he kept everyone's spirits up and was a happy guy. He is missed and it will be good to see him around the place. A few of the fans will be happy to see him as well.'

Gibbs, meanwhile, added: 'What a character he is! He puts a smile on my face like he does to everyone he meets. I'm looking forward to meeting up with him because he was a good friend of mine when he was here and his house in London is quite close to mine. It will be good to see him.'

As for the Emirates Cup tournament as a whole - a competition that features two sets of two games over two days - Arsenal take on Napoli on Saturday, then Galatasaray on Sunday. And the full back believes it is where the team can really step-up a level and demonstrate their worth of a first team place when the season kicks-off on August 17.

'This is where we're really looking to start preparing properly, in terms of full competitiveness on the pitch. It's our target to treat the Emirates Cup like the season is fast approaching and really go through the gears. We're looking forward to that.

'We missed it last year [Emirates Cup was canceled because of the 2012 Olympics] so it’s good to be coming back and getting a good pre-season game at our home ground. If you don't take it seriously then you're not going to take the season seriously. It's really important that we're fully switched on.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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