Kaba’s brief and rather unremarkable Arsenal career was so nearly a memorable one.
After signing from Bordeaux in 1998, the Toulon-born striker was a bit-part player for the Gunners in his only season at the Club, starting only three games in 1998/99.
But he was used mainly as an impact striker from the bench, none more so than in the penultimate game of the season when Arsenal travelled to Elland Road to face fourth-place Leeds United.
At the time, Arsene Wenger’s side were level on points with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. And, with Man United facing Blackburn Rovers a day later, victory in Yorkshire would have handed the Gunners a crucial advantage in the title race.
Having failed to score after 71 minutes at Elland Road, Arsene Wenger threw caution to the wind by bringing on Kanu and Diawara.
The Frenchman, who had largely flattered to deceive in red-and-white in his previous outings, looked a real menace on the night. He thought he had struck the winning goal within minutes of his introduction but saw Jonathan Woodgate nod a firm header off the line. Then, within seconds, the 23-year-old was thwarted by the crossbar after a similar effort.
Then with four minutes to play, having withstood almost constant Gunners pressure, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink won the game for Leeds with a diving header at the back post. The title was effectively Man United’s.
The year before, Christopher Wreh hit a handful of vital goals in Arsenal’s glorious title-winning run-in. However, 12 months later, Diawara fell just short.
He was sold to Marseille in the summer of ‘99 before moving to Paris St. Germain.
He has endured a rather nomadic career since, turning out for 11 clubs in the last six years, including Blackburn and West Ham on loan.
WHAT THE FANS SAID
|Arsenal Career||1998 - 1999|
|Appearances||15 (3 starts, 12 as a sub)|
"I remember when Arsenal signed Kaba Diawara and my excitement at the prospect of a new striker. Never have I seen one player hit the woodwork as many times in half a season as Diawara did in 1999. Everyone willed him on, but somehow the ball kept hitting the post."
Sam Limbert, Hertfordshire