There’s a mad genius. There’s a quirky uncle. There’s an undeniable success story. There’s a man who fought against the odds. There’s a man who’s universally loved.
Then someone decided to combine them into one man.
And it was good.
Back in the day, I promised to write a 1000-word praise for Kolo Toure. Soon after, however, I realized that the piece about him is going to hold a very different meaning very soon. Despite Toure showing us some amazing football this season, today it looks all but set for him to leave. The pain meets the horror. And if there’s a time to do it, it is now.
Kolo Toure is one of us. Kolo Toure is Liverpool. Liverpool want to move on and turn the page. I can understand it. With a hurting heart, I can. But I will still talk, I will still write. There are plenty of reasons why I admire this man – I genuinely don’t think we have the time to write and read the book he so thoroughly deserves. But there’s got to be something said about him. Because I won’t let this go so quickly.
As I’ve just said. Kolo is one of us. At least it seems like that, doesn’t it? He still doesn’t have a checkmark on Twitter, to make him rise above us mere mortals. He is literally less acknowledged than AnfieldHQ. And going further, Kolo does not come across as a Superman-like athlete. Not exactly a monster to make the attackers mess up their first touches solely from the power of his glance.
If anything, he’s a likable uncle who always has some sweets in his pocket. And he loves those sweets himself (which pretty much explains his weight problems back in the Manchester City days). He’s properly cheery too. Kolo’s training pics can cure depression, a loss of a puppy, a common cold and at least a couple of STDs. A plane banner of his mischievous grin flying over ISIS bases would easily bring peace and beauty to the region. You see my point. To say the very least, he’s the best man who’s ever lived.
When exterior meets the interior, everything changes. You should never let that cheery uncle image fool you. A player doesn’t get to be an important part of three title-challenging (I’d say winning but we bottled 13/14, remember?) teams just because he smiles nicely. Outside that exterior, there’s a man of unreal experience and skill. A backbone of a defence that spawned the Invincibles – team unbeaten in 49 games. But you probably knew about them already if you’ve ever met an Arsenal fan. It’s their ‘5 TIMEEEES’. And Kolo Toure was their Didi Hamann, cleaning up the mess.
Kolo Toure is a man we would always want to be. We’ll never know what really goes on in the head of his. We are probably never going to be given an opportunity to investigate what this man really is about. But judging from what I see, he’s the perfect working class hero for all of us to love. He’s two-footed Arsene Wenger to land himself an Arsenal contract. He’s sat on the sidelines for Liverpool and Manchester City only to deliver amazing matches whenever he’s called upon (and some bad ones too but how about you shut the fuck up and let me continue?). When Sakho was caught munching on pills to be more of a supermodel, Kolo has risen from the depths of hell to get us to a European final. He’s never moaned, he’s never gone on strike or ran to the press complaining he should start every game.
He’s an unreal defender with over 14 years of top class football behind his belt. Numerous finals, numerous titles – in our current squad he’s easily the one with the most history and recognition. He is that coveted ‘proper experience’ every squad is looking for to get everything going the way it should be.
And now he’s leaving.
Whilst he was playing for Liverpool, Kolo Toure looked like a fan who’s been given a chance. He’s screwed up every now and then. He hasn’t been perfect all the time. There have been howlers, there have been bad games. There was West Brom and that one time he knocked the ref down and just kept running! But most of the time Kolo has delivered. And that makes me happy.
Kolo is a walking travesty who doesn’t stop smiling. Kolo gave his heart every time he was called upon to help. Kolo is a popular figure amongst the players. And most importantly, Kolo has gone through three high-caliber Premier League clubs without becoming hated by the fans after the switch.
This is remarkable.
Kolo Toure is the most unexpected story of a legend you would ever hear. If anything, he’s the unorthodox story of a Premier League legend. Sometimes you just forget that seasons went by, generations changed and we was always there. Not a ‘one man club’ story we seem to love but something entirely different.
And I am glad he’s spent three amazing seasons with us. Every club should have their own Kolo Toure. Their own trusty mad genius and a comic relief for the generations. And an absolutely amazing defender as well. The Invincible. The One Who Painted Manchester Blue. And of course, The Liverpool Player. And even though his younger brother was usually the one who stole the spotlight, Kolo’s achievements in this league are absolutely sensational.
I’ll fucking miss you. Kolo Toure was one of a kind and I don’t think there will soon be someone like him. And now I can only hope your career doesn’t take a turn to Manchester United. Because by God, knowing you, I can rule it out. And I’ll have to try my damn hardest not to hate you.
(So what is ‘Kolology’ anyway?
It’s a double entendre, it’s an art to understand the mad genius. It’s amazing skill meeting failures meeting a quirky smile.)