Armand Traore made a remarkable 32 appearances for Arsenal which, I have to admit, was much higher than I was expecting to find when I started this piece.
Born in France, Traore signed for Arsenal in August 2005, remaining in the reserves that first season.
As Arsenal celebrated opening the Emirates with Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial, Traore took to the field against Ajax in a game Arsenal won 2-1 that also featured such notable players as Justin Hoyte, Pascal Cygan, Matthew Connolly, Ryan Smith.
On the bench for the first half, we also saw Mart Poom, Sebastian Larsson, Nicklas Bendtner, Fabrice Muamba, Joe O’Cearuill, Mark Randall, Vincent Van den Berg, Arturo Lupoli, and Anthony Stokes.
Traore, however, would not first make the Arsenal Premier League match day squad until the start of 2008 when he was on the bench for a game the Gunners won away, 3-1 against Manchester City.
Back on the bench the following week, he was then out of the squad altogether until his first minutes – a start against Liverpool in April.
The following season, the left-back got a run of eight starts in 10 games but he could never establish himself in the side when Kieran Gibbs or Gael Clichy were fit.
Ask most Arsenal fans who they most remember about Armand Traore and it is unfortunately likely they will think back to his roasting in the 8-2 at Old Trafford.
Three days later, Traore was sent on loan with Juventus, of all clubs, taking him to Italy.
Traore made 12 appearances for Juventus but did not do enough to convince the Old Lady they should sign him permanently. Arsenal, however, were done with him and he was sold to QPR for around £1m.
He stayed there for five years, making 92 appearances, scoring two and assisting four. But in 2016, Traore was off on a free transfer, this time to Nottingham Forest.
There, he matched his 32 appearances at Arsenal, although he grabbed three assists compared to two for the Gunners. Two years later, it was off to Cardiff on loan for half a season before signing for Caykur Rizespor in Turkey.
After a six months there, he was moved into their u21s before being released in the summer of 2019, despite having signed a two-year deal with an option for a further year.
The fault, however, was not Traore’s.
His club needed to sell him but, when they could not find a buyer, released him as they had too many foreign players.
Traore spoke about the move, saying it had made him look like a ‘fool’. “I have been experiencing a total hassle for almost two years,” Traore told FootMercato in 2020.
“In 2017/18, I went up to the Premier League with Cardiff City. That summer, I signed in Turkey at Rizespor.
“They sold me a dream, telling me that after a season, if I helped the team well, I would go to Fenerbahce. I was fooled.
“They had to pay me a good part of my salary before I arrived for the preparation course. They didn’t pay me for months and months. It was a little warm, with my family remaining in England.
“I took a lawyer to send letters to the club. They did not like it, they decided to release me, ban me from a training centre, sent me to the U23s and made me very poor. I sometimes even trained alone.
“In international week, when everyone was off, I was asked to come and train, alone on a field. I was denied permission to return to see my family. It ruined my career signing there.”
A few months without a club followed before he re-signed for Cardiff but, after just two months there, Traore retired from playing, aged just 31.
At the start of 2022, Traore spoke about his disappointment at not showing more patience at Arsenal.
“Maybe I should have been a little bit more patient after my loan at Juventus,” he told GOAL.
“I came back eager and impatient to play first-team football and at that time, Gael Clichy was still there and Kieran Gibbs was present too.
“If I could do it again, I would probably wait a bit more that summer but you know, everything happens for a reason.
“I have to move on with my life, it was a shame though,” Traore adds about how his career came to an end.
“So I’m now working to get my coaching license and I should be done with my badges soon. Presently, I’m spending time with my family because of the travelling around during my playing career.”
“I feel a little bit sad about the way my career ended but I trust the process and the plans God has for me. Next up is coaching, looking for a coaching job and trying to get back to football.”
Traore has also found religion, and says he will be removing his considerable tattoo collection.
“As a Muslim I believe we have to look after our bodies. It is the body that has been given to you – it is not good to eat too much and get fat,” Traore told The Guardian in the summer.
“During my first two years in England I got tattoos. One on each wrist and wings on my back. I got my ears pierced. And I went to nightclubs. I don’t do these things any more and this summer I plan to get my tattoos removed.
“I do not do anything that causes my body harm. I do not drink or smoke. Because the tattoo on my back is so big it would take too long to remove with lasers so I am going to see if, under anaesthetic, they can remove it all at once.”