Kolo Toure: Gallas feud forced me to quit Arsenal
Published 23:00 23/04/10 By David McDonnell
Kolo Toure has lifted the lid on his bitter feud with former team-mate William Gallas which he claimed drove him out of Arsenal.
Toure returns to Arsenal today for the first time since his £16million switch to Manchester City last summer following seven successful years under Arsene Wenger.
But on the eve of his return to The Emirates, Toure revealed the extraordinary rift with Gallas which left the central defensive pairing refusing to speak to each other.
“I was at Arsenal for seven years and everything was fantastic,” said Toure. “But the last two years were difficult.
“I had a few problems with a few people there and wasn’t feeling happy. I was looking for somewhere else and a new challenge.
“Gallas and me misunderstood each other at certain times and one of us had to leave. As a player I had great respect for him because he was older than me.
“In Africa, when someone is older you have respect for them, but I think sometimes he took advantage of that in some ways.”
Although Toure was reluctant to expand on his perceived mistreatment at the hands of Gallas, it is clear he felt somewhat bullied and intimidated by his former team-mate.
The fall-out between the pair got so bad Toure realised one of them had to go and that Arsenal boss Wenger had to make a decision over which player to sacrifice.
“That was it,” said Toure. “I think Arsene understood that. I didn’t want to make any trouble for Arsenal because I’d had a really good time there and they gave me my chance.
“There was no problem with Arsene and me. I have huge respect for him. But me and Gallas? We didn’t talk to each other at all.
“It really came down to me, because I didn’t want to leave the team in a difficult position and I was the one who said I wanted to go.”
While he may have little time for Gallas, Toure still has genuine affection for his old club and admitted their ongoing failure to win a trophy also played a part in his decision to leave.
“At the end of the last few seasons we were without any trophies,” said Toure.
“That was difficult for me because I was getting used to winning trophies with players like Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, so after four years without that it became difficult.
“Every time we got to the end of the season and had key games, we always seemed to have injuries or were unlucky.
“It’s been like that for a few seasons now at Arsenal, but Arsene is a really intelligent man and for next season he will change a few things.”
While Toure, 29, may be happier in his new environment, his debut season at City has not been an unqualified success, with injury and inconsistent form blighting his campaign.
The pace, athleticism and strength that made him such a formidable figure for Arsenal has been lacking and Toure admitted he had struggled in making the transition to City.
“It’s been a really tough season for me because of the injury I’ve had and having spent so long at Arsenal,” said the City skipper.
“Coming here, with different people and having different training, I had to get used to it.
“The first three or four months were difficult for me but I feel I’m getting better now and people at the club have helped me get better.
“I’ve also been playing with a little knee injury for quite a while now, because I want to help bring this club to the top. Hopefully next season will be better.”
Of more immediate concern to Toure is helping City win the battle for fourth place and the chance to play in the Champions League next season.
A win over a depleted and dispirited Arsenal side - following their late collapse in losing 3-2 at Wigan last weekend - would put City back in pole position to finish fourth.
And with more major investment planned this summer, Toure said City have the chance to eclipse Arsenal next season and overtake his old club in the Premier League.
“That’s why I’m here,” said Toure. “This football club wants to be at the top and if you want to get there you need players who are capable of getting you there.
“You can bring players in by spending money or you can wait for youngsters to come through like at Arsenal, but that can take a while.
“We really want to win trophies here at City and I think I’m at the right place to do that.”