Arsena Balls: Dan Smith never saw red for the tackle that ended Abou Diaby’s career but you might
Arsenal have said farewell to their French midfielder Abou Diaby, who has been released into the wild by the club. The French international Diaby made a single appearance in Arsenal’s starting XI this season, and that was in the Capital One Cup. That was an improvement on his tally for the previous season, where he came on once as a substitute. In season 2012-13 season he played 15 times.
For such a talented player, his lack of action is a travesty. Many will trace the 29-year-old’s stalled career to a horrible tackle from Sunderland’s Dan Smith in 2006. Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal said Diaby “was the victim of an assassin’s tackle that went unpunished.”
Smith never saw red for that “studs up” “petulant” tackle. He got only a yellow card.
Sunderland lost the game 0-3. And Diaby was forced to miss Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League final clash with Barcelona.
In 2014, Smith told the Newcastle Chronicle:
“It was not a malicious tackle, he has had other injuries since, as he had before. For Arsene Wenger to say that on television… for me, he’s looking for a scapegoat… I never meant to hurt anyone, I never intended to hurt. The referee saw it clearly, I did not receive a red card, I do not even remember if I was warned. It was just a late challenge, that you see every weekend… I have compassion for him, it was not easy, he has had a lot of injuries since. But if you take all of his career, you can not say he missed his life because of this injury. The last time I checked, he still earned 60,000 pounds a week while I work full-time in Australia.”
Adding by way of a life lesson:
“If this has been an obstacle in his career, obviously I apologise to him, but he must not forget that there are people less fortunate than himself.”
Smith says he apologised:
“I tried to contact him right after. After the meeting, I went on Match of the Day for a public apology and tried to contact him. The club did get my message of apology and I tried to call him, but he did not call me back. I apologised, it was the best thing to do. It’s not luck, but we have seen worse tackles since. There was Shawcross who broke Ramsey’s leg, but we saw the Welshman come back and have very good seasons since. When talking about injuries, I think I’m an easy target.”
“I did the cartilage on both knees, twice, and the cruciate ligaments in addition to twisting. This shows that injuries, if you take my example, are part of the football business… It’s part of football. I accepted the fact that certain things happen in a football career…”
And to Wenger he said:
“I find it a little hard for him to accuse me of being the cause of all the difficulties of a player who has had a 10-year career. I think he said that ‘every player needed his ankle’. But everyone also needs his knee or his head. Everyone gets injured. Some manage to return, and others, unfortunately, do not. This is football. If I could remove the evil I have committed, I would. Unfortunately, I can not.”
It’s a short career. And one Abou Diaby was robbed of.