The cult hero departs, along with his unique chant. The chant that inspired the name of this very blog. Hopefully Galatasaray will see the best the inimitable Ivorian has to offer, and I’m sure I’m not alone amongst Arsenal fans in wishing him all the best in whatever he does and wherever he goes.
Manu Eboué first appeared on the scene during the 2005/06 season, making the most of the opportunity presented to him by an injury plague that affected Arsenal’s defence. Seizing his chance, Eboue’s emergence at right-back prompted the sale of an Invincible, Lauren, to Portsmouth. Almost immediately, Emmanuel struck up an understanding with compatriot Kolo Touré and then-impressive Swiss central defender Phillippe Senderos. Along with makeshift left-back Mathieu Flamini (it really was a horrendous injury plague in the Gunners’ backline), Eboué, Toure and Senderos would form the foundation upon which Arsenal’s run to the Champion’s League final was built – setting a competition record of 10 straight cleansheets in the process. A truly remarkable feat given the circumstances.
Subsequently, Eboué remained first-choice right-back for a single season before being replaced by the more defensively-solid Auxerre full-back Bacary Sagna. Manu remained a useful utility player nonetheless, often appearing on the right-wing in games that needed to be closed out and, on at least one occasion, in the defensive midfield berth.
For a brief period in the 2008/09 campaign a prevailing impression began to be felt amongst Gooners that Eboué was not pulling his weight, was not working hard enough for the team and had a tendency to go to ground with embarrassing ease. This came to a head in the home league game against Wigan, in which Eboué, having come on as a substitute, was subjected to boos after dispossessing his own team-mate (Touré) and immediately giving the ball to the opposition. This infamous incident led many to believe that Eboué’s exit from the club was imminent.
As it turned out, such predictions were well wide of the mark. To everyone’s approval (and, dare I say, astonishment), Eboué used the setback to knuckle down and fight much harder for his place when he got the chance. As a result, he won the respect and adoration of the same fans who had booed him, and in his new-found hard-working incarnation he became the cult hero that we admire today. Hence the chant; “We only came to see Eboué!”
Emmanuel Eboué’s finest individual moment probably came in that same season against Blackburn Rovers at the Grove. Having scored a tap-in to make the score 3-0 late on, Eboué stepped up to take a penalty. He was by no means a regular penalty-taker, but he slotted it home to the delight of everyone present (bar Blackburn fans, presumably). The stadium announcer summed it up perfectly; “The goalscorer, number 27, the goal machine, EMMMANNNNUELLLLLL…”
“EBOUÉ!”, replied the joyous Arsenal crowd.
Although a technically limited footballer in many ways, Emmanuel Eboué will remain a cult hero at Arsenal for his personality and character.
Best of luck to ya, Manu.
Solidarity brothers & sisters…☭
P.S. The piece I wrote for Arsenal-Mania a few seasons back on the ‘Redemption’ of Eboué; http://arsenal-mania.com/articles/3107466/Redemption.html