Abou Diaby has told France Football he once dreamed of winning the Ballon d’Or and that his faith has helped him cope with a career beset by injuries.
Diaby, 30, left Arsenal to join Marseille in 2015 after 10 seasons with the Gunners in which he was unable to play regularly because of a variety of fitness setbacks.
Since returning to Ligue 1, the Frenchman has continued to suffer from injuries, meaning he has only made a handful of appearances, but he believes he could have gone a lot further within football.
“I have no limits,” he said. “Once upon a time, people would ask me about the Ballon d’Or. I told them I dreamt about it.
“I have always had big ambitions, like to become one of the best in my position. I think that I had the potential to achieve that. I am not saying it pretentiously, but some people in life are ambitious, others aren’t.”
Despite the setbacks he has endured, Diaby explained his coping mechanism.
“Since growing up in the Paris suburbs, a school for life if you like, I have always been taught to stay dignified, whether or not things go my way,” he said. “To persevere, advance or find a way out. I am a Muslim, faith plays a very important role.
“It allows me to take a step back from events in life, to continue to progress and to remain optimistic. That is essential. Faith has rounded off the education that my parents gave me.”
Despite his problems Diaby still considers himself “enormously lucky” and while he is still hopeful of playing on, he often looks “at examples of players who have had to end their careers as a result of injuries.”
He is committed to playing on “as long as possible,” but when he does retire he will need a change and has other interests he would like to pursue.
“I do not think that I can stay in football immediately after [retirement],” he said. “I created my foundation. Humanitarian work interests me too. For the southern countries but also in the Paris region where I preside over an association that works with youngsters. Projects interest me, even if they are not the only thing that does.”
Culled from ESPNFC