Abou Diaby knows he is a NOT a “fragile” footballer, even though he understands why the wider world might make the assertion.
On the contrary, the Arsenal midfielder believes his injury problems are nearly behind him and he harbours no concerns about his future career. In fact, he has “never been as motivated” to fulfill his ‘destiny’.
The 25-year-old was speaking after a week that typifies his ill-fortune. An ankle injury had restricted Diaby to just 26 minutes this season before he replaced Mikel Arteta early in the second half at Liverpool last Saturday. He would barely double that tally before being forced off again.
Fortunately, it is only a minor problem and the France international is expected to return soon. However the knock leaves Diaby in the unfortunately familiar position of battling back. Speaking to the French media this week, he put over his side of the story.
“A lot of things have been said and written about me and I wanted to tell the truth about my situation,” said Diaby. “People say that I’m fragile and although I understand why, I am not fragile.
“I have had three operations on my ankle, all for different problems but the result of that was that my body is unbalanced, especially in my legs. I have overused one over the other and to put everything back in place is not easy.
“I get injured,” he went on. “It’s a fact but when people tell you you're fragile, it hurts. Today my ankle is twice as big because of the surgery. My problem is a biomechanical problem. I need to work daily on how to rebalance my body."
Diaby admits his injuries have prompted thoughts of retirement in the past. But sterling work with the Arsenal medical team and specialists abroad have banished those now.
“I am not scared for the rest of my career,” he said. “I still have a big future. Physically, I really feel very good, like a beast. Unfortunately, I had that little problem at Liverpool but it’s nothing serious and I will start running again at the end of the week.
“There have been times where I thought about stopping my career. You always ask yourself a lot of questions in those moments. It’s hard mentally and I had to be strong. But quickly, I went back to a very positive attitude. I know I am going to be fine. I am not a cheat. I have always worked very hard to come back.
“I have never had any apprehension playing football but I have to say that last season I feared a bit to play. It was so important for me to come back to my best level and to avoid getting injured again that I had this little apprehension.”
With his recovery close to completion, Diaby is now philosophical about the journey he has taken but remains resolute about what he can achieve.
“For me, my injuries are a task sent by God,” he said. “I need to go through them to achieve the goals and the dreams that I have in my career. It’s my destiny. I am privileged. Some people have worse problems than me so I cannot complain.
“I am hungry and strong mentally. All those hard times have strengthened me. I know there is a lot of expectation around me and some pressure but it’s a challenge for me to come back to my best level.
“I have never been as motivated as I am now. I want to prove to everybody, and especially to myself, that I can do it. I have faith in what I am doing. I will never give up and I know that I will come out of this tunnel.”Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source