Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has earned the respect of his coach Arsene Wenger after facing a lengthy battle against injuries.
The 28-year-old defensive midfielder reportedly turned down a move to Chelsea before joining the Gunners in January 2006 for a reported £2 million.
His impact in the side was imminent and a number of strong performances immediately drew comparisons with former Gunners legend Patrick Vieira.
However, it was not long until Diaby suffered his first major injury as a severe ankle fracture sustained only weeks before the Champions League final ruled him out for the following nine months.
After returning, the subsequent three seasons were hampered by niggling injuries before he posted his best run of games in the 2009/10 season, appearing in 40 of the North Londoners’ 55 matches in all competitions.
Yet, it was not long until the injury layoffs returned and the former Auxerre star’s career has been blighted since 2010 – posting an astoundingly low 32 Premier League appearances over the last four and a half years.
Following his latest setback, a hamstring injury expected to keep him side-lined for three months, Wenger told BeIN Sport France yesterday that Diaby’s drive to continue has earned his upmost respect.
"He is a player that I have an enormous amount of respect for. Everytime he comes back, he has to start from zero with another injury. He was a victim of competition.” He said, quoted by the Mirror.
"A footballer needs his ankle. He was destroyed by a bad tackle [by Dan Smith on May 1 2006, which left Diaby with a severe ankle fracture] at Sunderland six or seven years ago which altered his ankle."
"He is not a fragile player. He was the victim of an assassin's tackle that went unpunished."
Diaby has represented France at all levels throughout his career, earning 16 full caps with his last coming during a FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying victory over Finland.