Bacary Sagna: 30 Reasons to Love the Arsenal Full-Back
When Arsene Wenger delved into the French Ligue 1 to snatch a relatively unknown right-back from AJ Auxerre in 2007, many fans were puzzled, but they waited patiently to see what Lauren Etame-Biyer’s long-term replacement had to offer.
Shortly after Lauren’s transition out of the team, Emmanuel Eboue manned the right-back position and put up some impressive performances in that position.
Besides having a penchant for diving as well as his other gimmicks on the pitch, Eboue has a decent cross on him, and he supplied some assists, with the standout cross being the pass he supplied to Robin van Persie against Charlton Athletic in the Valley.
Sagna’s introduction to the team saw Wenger push Eboue further up the pitch, but it was widely regarded as a failed experiment. In his first season with the club, Sagna's performances were so consistent that he earned a rightful place in the 2008 PFA Team of the Year.
Sagna didn’t rest on his laurels, and he continued to produce consistent displays week-in and week-out, while keeping his optimal fitness levels in check. His continued stellar performances brought an abrupt end to Eboue’s Arsenal career, as the Ivorian opted to join Galatasaray in his bid to play first-team football.
Today marks the 30th birthday of Bacary Sagna, and to celebrate his birthday in my own special way, here are 30 reasons to love the French full-back.
His Goal Against Tottenham
Every true Arsenal fan will always remember the North London derby last season at the Emirates for more reasons than one.
Arsenal’s fierce rivals arrived at the Emirates sitting 10 points clear of the Gunners. Arsenal went two goals behind for a considerable chunk of the first half, which meant that they would have been 13 points behind Tottenham and their third-place ambitions would have been obliterated.
But when the going got tough, it took one header to inspire Arsenal to an unbelievable comeback. A header from Bacary Sagna.
In my life as a football fan, I’ve seen a lot of hairstyles that have become unique in their own special ways.
Marouane Fellaini’s lice haven, Djibril Cisse’s different hair dyes, Theo Walcott’s impeccable low cuts, Alex Song’s tarantula and the list goes on and on.
Many Arsenal know Sagna for his blonde dreadlocks that have become a stuff of legends in this part of the world.
Despite being a very fine athlete on the field of play, Sagna is in the mold of guys that can make women drool with his amazing physique.
As the saying goes, ‘seeing is believing,’ so I indulge you to feast your eyes on this image.
His Wife, Ludivine Sagna
Footballers have been renowned for having gorgeous women with all their fame, wealth and celebrity statuses.
Bacary Sagna married his heartthrob from Auxerre, Ludivine Kadri, and they have two children.
When she’s not at the Emirates watching her husband play or uploading pictures on Twitter, she’s a hot model.
The best part of it all—she’s a Gunner.
His 5-Star Performance Against Sunderland
He was drafted into an unfamiliar center-back role after Laurent Koscielny picked up a knock in the warm-up but Sagna’s performance against Sunderland would go down as one of his best in Arsenal colors.
His cause wasn’t helped by the fact that the stand-in right-back, Carl Jenkinson, got a red card that exposed his naivety, but Sagna marshaled a make-shift defense that held the fort from start to finish.
He made a lot of vital interceptions, clearances, headers and was awesome in every sense of the word.
His Devotion to Arsenal
In recent times, Arsenal has had a mass exodus of players that have left for greener pastures. When it seemed as if Theo Walcott was going to join the trend, he made a U-turn and signed a long-term deal that would keep him in the club for years to come.
With Walcott’s future sorted out, all eyes were firmly fixed on Bacary Sagna, as he was tipped to make a move to the free-spending Paris St.-Germain but the Frenchman pledged his allegiance to Arsenal (via Sky Sports),
“The transfer rumours regarding PSG? I am 100 per cent devoted to my club, I am only thinking about defending the colours of Arsenal until the end of my contract.
“The fans are angry with me because they heard about PSG’s interest, but I am not responsible for that. I have never had any contact.”
He’s on Twitter
The social networking platform, Twitter, has given football fans the rear opportunity to connect with the players of the team they support, and Arsenal is no different.
Bacary Sagna has a verified Twitter account, but unlike the Justin Biebers, Lady Gagas and Rihannas of this world, Sagna has only 478,409 followers.
It’s funny how I used the world “only” to describe the amount of followers Sagna has. You need to see how many I have.
He’s Heralded as the Best Right-Back in the League
In his first season at the club, he earned himself a place in the 2008 PFA Team of the Year. This was no mean feat, and he got that spot because he was the best right-back that season.
As seasons went by, he continued to maintain his form, and that sentiment has been shared by his manager, Arsene Wenger, (via Give Me Football),
“I think so, personally, and I believe that everybody at the club would share this opinion. Many people outside the club have this opinion as well.
“I must say with the right back position I have been quite lucky because we had Lee Dixon when I arrived, then Lauren, and Sagna afterwards. They have all been real winners and extremely consistent. On that front we were very lucky.
”They are all real battlers, they are ready to die to win. All these players have been inspirational for everybody because their physical level, commitment, intelligence and desire to win is all there.”
I’m sure we all know what that opinion is
His Comeback from Injury
In rather unfortunate circumstances, Sagna broke his leg twice last season, causing him to watch the European Championships in the comfort of his home with his beautiful Ludivine.
After spending countless months rehabilitating and recuperating, Sagna made his return this season for the Arsenal Under-21s in their victory over Reading’s Under-21s.
As expected, Sagna expressed his delight in playing the beautiful game again, even if it was for the Under-21s (via Arsenal.com),
“It is amazing to be back, I have been waiting for this moment for five months. This was my target: to come back and play, firstly for the under-21 team. Everything went well and we won, so I am very happy.
“I have been working really hard. I spent some time in the rehab centre, then I came back and worked really hard with the fitness coach and the physios to be ready to play – and finally I have.
“When you have such a big injury once, you take it, but twice is hard. In my mind I was a bit sad, but the next day I was ready for the challenge, which was to come back stronger and I am in a good way today.”
It was good seeing Sagna return from his long-term injuries, and judging from his last performance against Sunderland, it’s clear for everyone to see what Arsenal had missed.
The Points He Rakes in Fantasy Premier League
Many Fantasy Premier League fans will forever bless the day they put Swansea’s Miguel Michu in their team because of the way he delivers points, especially when it’s doubled because he’s the “captain.”
I, like many Fantasy Premier League players out there, was given £100m to create a team, and I invested £5.4m on the full-back. He won some points for me, as his team secured a clean sheet.
At the price of £5.4m, Sagna is a true bargain in FPL.
His Inch-Perfect Tackles
In football, the art of tackling requires a lot of precision as well as technique.
If you get it right, you might earn an ovation from the crowd, but if you get it wrong, you’ll find yourself in the referee’s book.
Fortunately, Sagna is ranked among the best tacklers in the business, and his record of just 14 yellow cards and no red cards in 168 Premier League games is a testament of that.
If you doubt Sagna’s clinical abilities in tackling, take a good look at Lee Cattermole’s Premier League profile, where he has amassed 60 yellow cards and five red cards in 180 games.
His Raw Reserves of Pace
Bacary Sagna is no Usain Bolt or Theo Walcott, but he can give any winger a run for his money when it comes to pace. His recovery levels are superb and the way he bombs forward to support his right winger is admirable.
He also covers a lot of distance on the pitch, which is worth commending as well.
He Drives His Team Forward
Times without number, Sagna is known for being very vocal in airing his views.
After Arsenal’s emphatic 5-2 win over Tottenham last season, Sagna stated that his team couldn’t afford to lose to the enemy (via Arseblog News).
Sagna has always stated how his team wants victories for the fans. An elder statesman in the squad, his influence cannot be overemphasized.
He Has Won Trophies with AJ Auxerre
In the final of the Coupe de France against Sedan Ardennes, Sagna came on as a 60th-minute substitute for Johan Radet, but goals from Benjani Mwaruwari and Salomon Kalou’s elder brother, Bonaventure, were enough to hand Auxerre their fourth Coupe de France title.
He Has Amassed Individual Accolades
Bacary Sagna is a very outstanding footballer and his exploits have been recognized on four occasions.
In the 2006/07 Ligue 1 campaign, he was AJ Auxerre’s Player of the Season, and he was sold to Arsenal that summer. In his final season with Auxerre, he also earned a place in the 2007 UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year.
At Arsenal, Sagna’s performances in his debut season (2007/08) and the 2010/11 season earned him spots in the respective Teams of the Year at the end of both seasons.
His Pin-Point Crosses
In 226 games for Arsenal thus far, Sagna has notched up 19 assists. Most have come from pin-point crosses in different games. According to Who Scored, Sagna has had a pass completed percentage of 86.1 percent so far this season.
In Sagna’s time at Arsenal, I still have fond memories of his 94th-minute cross to Nicklas Bendtner against Wolves in the 2009/10 and his late peach of a cross to Robin van Persie in the 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield last season.
His Prowess in the Air
Sagna stands at 5′9″, but he leaps off the ground like a kangaroo.
According to Who Scored, Sagna has won 3.4 aerial duels per game this season, and he has been used as an outlet to instigate attacks after a punt from Wojciech Szczesny.
When Sagna played as a center-back against Sunderland, his aerial prowess was on show again. He contended with the likes of Titus Bramble and Steven Fletcher to win a lot of duels, as well as making vital clearances and interceptions with his head.
He Has Made Over 200 Appearances for Arsenal
Prior to his first leg fracture at White Hart Lane, Sagna had become synonymous with first-team action at Arsenal, notching up 40, 49, 44 and 43 appearances in his first four seasons with Arsenal.
If he hadn’t broken his legs twice last season, Sagna would have reached the 250-game mark before Theo Walcott, who has become the 67th player in Arsenal’s history to achieve this feat.
Sagna currently has 226 apps for the Gunners and he’s odds-on favorite to become the 68th player to hit that milestone, should he remain at Arsenal in his twilight years.
His Influence on Carl Jenkinson
When Carl Jenkinson joined the club as a relatively unknown figure from Charlton Athletic, Wenger took him under his tutelage and made a big call by letting cult hero Emmanuel Eboue go Turkey, leaving young Jenko to understudy Sagna.
After a series of not-too-impressive performances, Jenkinson got his big break when Sagna was nursing his injury at the start of the campaign. After watching him make stellar performances from the sidelines, Sagna acknowledged that the young full-back will be one of the best in the business (via Arsenal.com),
“He has been really good, and has learned a lot, he is a bit more confident with the ball, and is very solid as a defender.
“He brings a lot to the team, and I am very happy for him because he is a hard worker, a very good guy and is going to be one of the best.”
In what has been a fairytale season for Jenkinson, he signed a long-term deal with the club as well as making his maiden appearance for England in the 4-2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired defeat to Sweden.
While Jenkinson remains one for the future, Sagna still has a role to play in the young man’s fledgling career.
He’s an Ambassador for Grassroot Soccer
Many footballers make their marks on the pitch with goals, saves, assists and what have you. A handful of footballers also leave legacies off the pitch, and Sagna falls into this category.
In spring of 2011, Sagna became an ambassador for Grassroot Soccer, an international non-profit that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV (via Humanitarian News).
In his official website, Sagna expressed his delight in being part of the project (via BacarySagna.net),
“In Africa soccer is like a religion. I see that Grassroot Soccer is using the power of the game to improve the lives of many young people across Africa. I am African and I play the beautiful game. So I am very excited to be part of the Grassroot Soccer team.”
He Scores Rare Goals
With the exceptions of the likes of Dani Alves, Maicon, Darijo Srna and those attack-minded right wingers that claim to be full-backs, you would know that scoring isn’t really part of a full-back’s lexicon, but providing chances through crosses are.
Bacary Sagna has played close to 350 games in his nine-year career but he has only four goals to show for it. He broke his scoring duck in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, a game where he got injured as well.
He had to wait for three seasons before he scored two vital goals against Everton in Goodison Park and Leeds in the FA Cup replay.
He scored his fourth career goal in that epic 5-2 win over Tottenham.
He Was Hugely Missed When He Was Out Injured
When Sagna fractured his leg twice last season, his absence was badly missed, bearing in mind that Arsenal lost all its recognized full-backs in the winter period.
In a strange twist of fate, Arsenal lost Andre Santos to an ankle injury, Kieran Gibbs to a stomach injury, Carl Jenkinson to a back injury and Sagna to his leg injury.
He Drew Some Inspiration From the Jaguar, Djibril Cisse
When Arsenal played Tottenham in White Hart Lane, the world witnessed a horror moment that was suffered by Bacary Sagna, and he has been diagnosed to be out until the New Year at least. This is a massive blow to Arsenal, but life without Sagna commences on Saturday and a lot will be asked of Carl Jenkinson the youngster.
Sagna has decided to draw some inspiration from the Blonde Jaguar, Djibril Cisse (via Give Me Football),
“Djibril suffered operations worse than mine and he always came back. He has a force of character that is an example to all players.”
“Some would have decided to give up or come back at a lower level. The fact that he was recalled to the France team, and he showed so much desire, is an example.”
Cisse suffered horrific leg breaks on both legs but came back stronger after very lengthy periods out of action.
Recuperating from a long-term injury requires a lot from the player that suffered the injury, but it’s not every player that comes back blazing on all cylinders. Judging from his last performance, you can say that he was red-hot.
He’s an Ever-Present Figure For France
Since making his debut for Les Bleus in 2007, Sagna has become a mainstay in the national side, with Matt Debuchy deputizing for him when he missed Euro 2012 through injury.
Sagna was ever present in France’s qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup, but he was also part of the shambolic French side that crashed out of the group stages in South Africa.
After being a vital part of the team that qualified for the Euros, injury forced him out of the squad, but he has made his return in the 2-1 defeat to Germany.
Sagna has managed to notch up 33 appearances for France thus far.
He Has Spent over 5 Seasons at Arsenal
On his fifth anniversary with the club, Sagna had a lot to say in his interview with Arsenal Player (via Arsenal.com),
”It has been magic. I’ve enjoyed a lot playing for Arsenal and I still love it. Every time I go to the pitch, I just give 100 per cent for the team.
“[The Club] is like my family. My personal family is in France but I feel at home here, I feel happy to come training and I feel relaxed. There are not many big clubs where you feel that confident.
“I think I have progressed a lot—that was my target, to come to such a big club and improve.
Even though he hasn’t won anything in his first five years with Arsenal, Sagna has filled the fans with fond memories. They sing his songs with joy in their hearts because he has endeared himself to them times without number with his outstanding performances.
He’s currently in his sixth year with the club, and we can only hope that he’ll get the trophy he deserves for his unrelenting service to the club.
He Has His Favorite Hollywood Movie Collection
Sagna may come from France and ply his trade in England, but according to his website, he has his own collection of Hollywood movies which he ranks as his best (via BacarySagna.net).
Bacary Sagna’s favorite films include: Malcolm X, Slumdog Millionaire, Scarface and Heat. These are all classics.
Besides Football, His Next Favorite Sport is Tennis
Ardent and passionate football fans and players alike will probably have a thing or two for tennis for reasons best known to them.
I, for instance, take some time out to watch tennis because I like the way Maria Sharapova sounds when she swings that racket.
Roland Garros is a Gland Slam played in Sagna’s native country, and it comes in the summer when club football is over. I have a hunch that Sagna takes his Ludivine to enjoy the sunshine of Paris while watching Rafael Nadal tear his peers apart.
At least, that what he says on his website.
He Loves the Stade De France
The Stade de France is a magnificent football ground that was commissioned in January 1998, just in time for the FIFA World Cup that was to be hosted in France.
It was estimated that the stadium cost €290m, and it was only befitting that Zinedine Zidane scored the first goal in the Stadium in a 1-0 friendly victory over Spain in front of 78,368 spectators, which included France’s president at that point, Jacques Chirac.
Six months later, the stadium hosted the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup with a brace from Zidane and ex-Gunner Emmanuel Petit sealing victory for Aime Jacquet’s team.
Two years later, the ground hosted the 2000 UEFA Champions League final, where Real Madrid thumped Valencia 3-0 with goals from Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul Gonzalez.
Arsenal also visited Stade de France in May 2006, but two goals from Samuel Eto‘o and Juliano Belletti canceled out Sol Campbell’s match opener, ending Arsene Wenger’s hopes of winning that elusive Champions League trophy.
He Was Born on Valentine’s Day
Today may be Bacary Sagna’s birthday but it’s also a day remembered for love and the other things that can along with it. In what has become a trend, lovers mark Valentine’s day as a benchmark to rekindle their love and they go through a lot to make the day special for each other.
Ludivine Sagna must be a very happy woman right about now, her husband’s birthday falls on a day as special as this.
Finally, His Consistency
There are so many things to love about Bacary Sagna, but none can be compared to his consistency on the field of play.
Week-in, week-out, Sagna continues to maraud down Arsenal’s right-flank, balancing his defensive and attacking play superbly. Since the days of Lee Dixon and Lauren Etame-Meyer, Sagna’s performances on the right ranks him with the very best in the beautiful game and Arsenal fans are honored to have such an amazing player in every sense of the word.
Happy Birthday, Bac-Man.
Feel free to tell me what you love about Sagna as well.