Former French National Team and Arsenal player Abou Diaby, who fellow club and countryman Patrick Viera described as a more versatile player than even himself, connected with Crew SC Academy players and technical staff to discuss his career path and the lessons learned throughout his professional tenure, as Diaby rose through the ranks as one of the most highly-touted French youth players of the last two decades.
Diaby's career was cut short due to injury, and with that, much of his story has been labeled as a "what if?", but his path to the English Premier League was not forged without a great deal of physical and mental perseverance (a common theme amongst the world's best) and, as he discussed with the Academy below, a lifelong drive predicated on attaining his dream of playing for one of the world's biggest clubs.
Undoubtedly, Diaby's return from a broken ankle suffered in 2006, which featured three surgeries and an eight-month recovery span, was the biggest challenge to overcome, as he explained below.
And rightly so, his biggest accomplishment, Diaby said, was not mentally giving in to what could have been a career nullified by injury.
Diaby's entire tenure at Arsenal fell under manager Arsene Wenger's guidance, and he gave insight below into what it was like to play for one of the English Premier League's most accomplished managers.
To play with those Arsenal teams, or any team that holds championship-level expectations, Diaby said, it is critical to train like you play, particularly when you play alongside guys like Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Robin Van Persie, for instance.
Something that every pro has to go through, Diaby explained, is learning how to stay motivated and treat it as more than just a passion.
Lastly, Diaby gave this advice to Academy players, who inquired about tips for aspiring pros.
For those interested in learning more about Diaby's tenure with Arsenal from 2006-2015, watch this interview with the box-to-box midfielder, who originally started as a striker in his youth days.