Emmanuel Eboue is yet another product of the ASEC Abidjan academy who graduated under the Frenchman Jean-Marc Guillou. Abidjan-born Eboue was 19 when he flew the nest at ASEC to join partner club Beveren, joining several of his current Ivorian team-mates. Two-and-a-half seasons in Belgium’s Jupiler League built his reputation and attracted the interest of Arsene Wenger, who signed him for Arsenal in January 2005.
The first six months in North London were a tough test, but the versatile Ivorian is mentally strong and realised that the best was yet to come. He was part of the starting line-up for the 2006 UEFA Champions League final, the reward for an epic performance in the Premiership a month earlier that prompted his manager to compare him to Garrincha, no less. In May 2007, he extended his contract at the Emirates, where Wenger intends to give him a leading role in the future.
He received his first call-up for his country in 2004, and has had a hand in every international campaign since. His status in the national side has grown hand in hand with his club career in the Premier League. Along with Didier Zokora, the Gunners’ defender/midfielder was used more than any other player by Vahid Halilhodzic in the qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.