Laurent Koscielny

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Interview

Koscielny - ‘It was emotional… my smile is back’

Laurent Koscielny is back.

Our captain ended a wait of 225 days for a first-team game on Thursday when he led the team out against Qarabag in the Europa League.

It was a highly-charged, emotional moment for Laurent, a far cry from the agony of May 3 this year when his season - and World Cup - was ended by a ruptured Achilles.

That date is fixed in Laurent’s mind but now he’s looking forward after completing the long road back to recovery.

“Yes, it was an important day for me,” he told Arsenal.com. “It was the end of my rehab, so I am very happy to play today with my team, for this club, and to enjoy it with them on the pitch.

“It was very emotional because you remember the first day when I was injured, the 3rd of May, and now we are on the [13th] of December, and you have some flashbacks in your head about different periods you had during your rehab. 

“I met a lot of people who helped me a lot, and so I’m very proud to know them now. There were some difficult moments, during this period, but now I think I’m more calm and focused on what I want, and physically I’m OK.

“I’m proud of myself,” added the captain. “You know in rehab it’s difficult to be injured, because when you start rehab you have to re-learn how to walk, how to go step by step on the stairs, and it’s difficult at the beginning, because you look like you can’t be back on the pitch. 

“But with the people who worked with me and helped me every day, I gave 100 per cent to be back every day and to progress every day. Then when I came back here [to Arsenal] everyone pushed me hard to work. It’s OK - I like to work! So I gave more for this and now I have the result for all the effort I made over seven months.

“It’s been difficult but you learn a lot about yourself, about the people you have around you. Now it’s the end of my rehab - I have my smile back and I will enjoy it with my club. I will start my season now.”

Documentary

Laurent Koscielny: Stronger | In-depth documentary

After seven months on the sidelines, Laurent Koscielny made his return from a serious Achilles injury in Thursday’s Europa League clash with Qarabag.

Our club captain was given an emotional reception inside Emirates Stadium as he made his first appearance since suffering the injury in May’s semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
 
Head of sports medicine Gary O’Driscoll and director of high performance Darren Burgess worked with Laurent throughout his recovery and, together with our defender, share the story behind his return in our in-depth documentary, focusing on:

  • Laurent’s agony at the Wanda Metropolitano
  • Antoine Griezmann’s role in consoling our captain
  • Koscielny’s first few steps in his recovery
  • His heartbreak at missing France’s 2018 World Cup triumph
  • Why Laurent will now be stronger than ever

Interview

The story of how Griezmann comforted Koscielny

When Laurent Koscielny was stretchered off in the 11th minute of our Europa League semi-final in Madrid, it was an understandably emotional moment for the French defender.

Knowing that his World Cup was all but over, our club captain was distraught, but medical director Dr Gary O'Driscoll tells the story of how he was comforted by our players at half-time - and one of the stars of the Atletico team.

"There were three or four of us in the dressing room and Laurent was lying on the bed, close to tears," he told Arsenal Player. "It was an extremely emotional moment.

"The half-time whistle went and suddenly all the players came in. The level of endearment, respect and love for Laurent was apparent straight away. All the players came over, there were lots of hugs and then the team went off for the team talk. 

"I stayed with Laurent and then there was a very emotional moment when one of the players from the opposition came in, it was Antoine Griezmann. He walked in, went over, put his arm around him and the two of them had a fond embrace and a cuddle - and it was a prolonged one. 

"Griezmann didn’t say to me, ‘How bad is this?’ They looked at each other and they almost knew what the implications were. I think that made a big impression on Laurent.

"I think he knew that not only was he cared for and loved in the dressing room, but also that people outside were all thinking of him and were all caring about what was going to happen next, while also being aware that this is probably the end of his World Cup."

Interview

Koscielny - My injury made me a better man

Koscielny

Laurent Koscielny is back - and he says he’s “a better man” for his injury.

The captain ruptured his Achilles during our Europa League semi-final defeat against Atletico Madrid in April, and was ruled out of France’s triumphant World Cup campaign.

Laurent ended an eight-month wait for first-team football when he came off the bench against Huddersfield on Saturday, concluding a long, arduous journey that has brought out the best in the 33-year-old.

“It makes you a better person, a better man,” he told Arsenal.com in an exclusive feature, ‘Laurent Koscielny - Stronger’.

“I talked to a lot of people who had been injured like me, or in their knees, so it’s like six months [out], and they told me that you miss football a lot and when you come back you are so hungry. You want to eat everything and grow on the pitch and just enjoy and be happy with what you can do on the pitch. 

“These are real things that I have in me. I’m hungry to play football again and to play with my teammates, so I don’t think people will say ‘you have been injured and will be less stronger than before’. I think you are mentally stronger than any people who didn’t have an injury like you’ve had.

“A lot of people said, ‘OK, he went to Saint-Raphael in the south of France and it was sunny and he’s enjoying his holiday’, but for me it wasn’t a holiday. Every week I trained with two sessions and they made it quick enough so that I could enjoy my time with my family at the weekend. But during two-and-a-half months from June 10 to August 20 I trained five days a week.”

Laurent had the support of his family and friends but, inevitably, a long rehabilitation process comes with its share of loneliness as each small step to recovery is taken.

“When you are fit, you have a lot of friends and a lot of people who love you and everything, and when you are injured all these people forget you,” said Laurent. “But it’s nice because for me I don’t forget and I can realise which people are with me and love me, so it’s important for my life to know about this.

“You miss everything,” he added. “You miss the love you can have with your teammates, you miss the pitch, you miss all the conversations with your teammates during treatment or gym sessions.

“For a football player and in collective sports, it’s important to get back with your teammates because you live with them as well. If you want to be better and happy then with them you can be.”

Interview

Why Koscielny could be better than ever now

Having sustained a serious Achilles injury at the age of 32, it is only natural to wonder what impact it might have on Laurent Koscielny.

But our medical team are convinced that our club captain could come back as strong as he was previously, if not even stronger.

"It’s not very easy to say this, but actually an enforced period of rehabilitation and recuperation can actually help a player extend his career and help a player to concentrate on areas of his career that potentially could have been improved," medical director Dr Gary O'Driscoll says.

"His speed, his pace, his agility, his endurance. So, while we can’t say for certain that he’ll come back, with all our markers at the moment there is no deficit there whatsoever at this stage.

"And in fact, in certain areas he’s looking stronger. His attitude is so positive, we’re all so positive and there’s no reason to believe whatsoever that he can’t become the player he was, if not better."

Director of high performance, Darren Burgess, agrees that the work that has taken place over the last seven months will have a beneficial effect.

"One of the things with Laurent in this particular injury is that he relies on his pace a lot and he’s a very deceptively quick player, so the biggest challenge that we have is to try and return his speed to his Achilles, because the Achilles stores a lot of elastic energy and it’s largely responsible for your speed," he said.

"So what this injury has enabled us to do is actually make his Achilles stronger and more durable than probably what it was before. Having a little bit of time out from the game, and the regular exposure of jumping, sprinting and tackling that Laurent does, may actually help him. 

"We don’t know that yet, it’s still too early to tell, but I’m pretty confident, just like Laurent is, that he will come back even better and more resilient than when he left us."

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