Abou Diaby has opened up about the extent of his sadness during a long spell on the sidelines last season, conceding that there were moments when he was depressed to be out of action.
Diaby, 26, made a total of five appearances across all competitions for Arsenal last season and despite making a successful return to start off the current campaign, the Frenchman has not forgotten his frustrating journey to regaining full fitness.
While on international duty, where he scored the only goal to help France to a 1-0 win away to Finland, Diaby told Le Parisien that his reality as a healthy player today was only a wish just a few months ago.
“I had some very difficult moments, some days when I was depressed when it was tough,” Diaby was quoted by Arsenal’s official website.
Attributing his mental and physical recovery to patience and humility, he added: “But even then, I always kept faith. I always told myself that some people were in a worse position than me.
“When you see Eric Abidal [who has had a kidney transplant], you think twice about yourself. I just had to get my body sorted.
“I am 26 and I am aware that I am at a key moment in my career. That’s why it was so important that I came back this season. Last year I told myself, ‘I am injured again, I am nearly 26 and I am at a key turn. Either, I take the turn well and I succeed, either I don’t take it and it will become very, very difficult.’
“Now, I am careful about every detail, I leave nothing to chance. I am much more mature. I also had a full pre-season for the first time in ages. It’s such an important season for me that I am working harder than ever to succeed.”
The results of Diaby’s belief and dedication have been there for all to see – he is serving as a surprisingly strong component of the Gunners’ starting midfield following the sale of Alex Song and his presence is evident in a France side that certainly needs a player with such intensity and hunger.
On Tuesday, Diaby and his France teammates will host Belarus in a World Cup 2014 qualifier before the midfielder returns to the Premier League to help Arsenal overcome Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.