For three seasons now at Liverpool Football Club, Kolo Toure has always been on the fringes. An afterthought; the backup; the man sat in the stands when everybody is healthy. For three seasons at Liverpool, Kolo Toure has been a key defender. The big game starter; the organiser; the leader.
He has been the definition of the veteran fourth defender. Forgotten by many until injury and circumstance thrusts him back into the lineup for another night, another week, another month. He’s proven the importance of having a proven, senior player filling the role. A player who can play in any game but not every game.
“You always have tough times in football, but this is why I always keep fighting,” said the 35-year-old Ivorian, who is expecting Wednesday’s game to be his last for Liverpool. “It’s why I always kept working so hard. This is one of the best clubs in the world, and every time I wear the shirt I feel so proud.
“I always give everything I’ve got. If I’m on the pitch I try to help the team. When I’m not in the team I try to push the young players and use my experience by talking to them. I am a fighter and I always said I would fight until the end. It’s been a long journey, but the journey is not done yet. There is one game to go.”
One game to go for Toure in the season, and one game to go in his time at Liverpool. Perhaps in his time in English football. Few would have expected, at the start of the season, Liverpool would find themselves in a European final this season. Fewer still would have imagined that, if they were, Toure would be starting.
Such is life for a fourth centre half. The forgotten man, working hard in training just in case. Trying to carve out a role even if he knows he might not ever get that chance to play, to start, to be key member of the matchday squad. And then, one day, through injury and circumstance, he’s starting in a European final.
“I won a big trophy in my last game for the Ivory Coast,” Toure added. “I hope I can do the same with Liverpool. In 15 years, this is only my second European final—they’re tough to get to. It will be hard, but I believe in this group of players. We have the belief to go on and win it.”