Former Arsenal full-back Armand Traore has paid tribute to ‘father figure’ Arsene Wenger.
Traore looked poised to become the latest product of the Arsenal conveyor belt when Wenger, who knows a fantastic talent when he sees one, handed him his first-team debut against West Bromwich Albion in 2006.
Armand Traore struggled to cope at ArsenalGetty Images
And while Traore’s Gunners career eventually petered out, there is no doubt Wenger had a profound effect on the France-born defender’s career.
Traore’s struggles with mental health have been well-documented, with his father dying of cancer when he was just 20 proving to be a catalyst.
During those difficult times Traore struggled to open up about his problems – but Wenger was someone he was always able to open up to.
“For people who don’t know, I came over to this country when I was 14 years old, so everything is so new,” Traore told Kick Off on talkSPORT.
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“To have a father figure like Arsene Wenger when I arrived at the club, to make sure I was all right and to make sure I was comfortable, definitely helped.
“This is what makes Arsene Wenger great.”
On his mental health issues, Traore added: “I did speak to Wenger about certain issues I had mentally.
“I remember going to see him, as I always used to come off after 60 minutes. No matter the game I got to 60 minutes and used to get spasms all over my legs – I couldn’t move.
“I remember one day we were in the office and this is when I started to know I had mental health issues.
“He explained to me why I was getting those cramps.
“It all came from anxiety and this is when I started to know a bit more.
Arsene Wenger helped Traore understand that he was suffering from mental health problemsAFP – Getty
“Wenger always had his door open for things like this. He didn’t make it taboo – mental health was not taboo to Arsene Wenger.
“It’s very much taboo in the world of football. I can’t say I could have gone and spoke to different managers.
“They probably would ha thought, ‘oh, this looks weak I don’t really want to put him in my team’.
“So you end up not wanting to talk about it and coping however you can.”
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