Born in Sens, a short distance from Auxerre, Bacary Sagna made sure he obtained his high school qualifications before entering his local club’s renowned academy. Accustomed to polishing rough diamonds, Auxerre’s coaching staff slowly but surely guided Sagna through the different youth levels and reserve team, making sure not to put too much pressure on his young shoulders. At the time Sagna still played up front, showing no little skill in the position. But destiny had other plans for him. It will probably never be known whether or not the Burgundy native could have made a world-class career out of scoring goals, but from the moment he filled in at right-back when his team found itself a man down, he would remain there, his power, positioning and pace making him the perfect candidate for the post.
Thrust into the limelight of Ligue 1 during the 2004/05 season that was crowned by a French Cup victory, he rapidly established himself as one of the most impressive defenders in French football, a status which was confirmed by his peers two seasons later when they voted Sagna the best right-back in the league. This was enough to persuade France coach Raymond Domenech, who saw him as an ideal understudy to Willy Sagnol, to hand him a first cap against Slovakia in August 2007.
Around the same time, Sagna was being pursued by another influential Frenchman, Arsene Wenger, who persuaded him to sign for Arsenal. Alongside William Gallas and Kolo Toure, he became a permanent fixture down the right flank, where his explosive runs and high-quality crosses made him a firm favourite with the fans. He has recently brought the same qualities to his role in the French national team, in which he is now almost assured of a place in the starting line-up, following Sagnol’s retirement after UEFA Euro 2008.