Alex Song played his final match for Arsenal against West Ham before heading off to join up with the Cameroon squad for the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
The rise of Song as a player and character at Arsenal has been one of the feel-good stories of the year for me and a lot of Gooners around the world.
In 2009 he has blossomed from a bit-part player not rated by most observers into a midfield juggernaught, capable of stamping his personality on a football match and providing the platform for our most important player – Cesc Fabregas – to shine.
Although we switched to a 4-3-3 the improved performances of Song and the partnership he has formed with Cesc has been arguably the key reason we have gone from fourth-place finishers to title contenders in six short months.
Song’s progression and impact is made even more admirable by the attitude he shows both on and off the pitch.
He is a unique character with his Cameroon sweatbands, muppet hairdo and scuttling playing style but never once have I seen him dive or feign injury, nor have I seen him have a prolonged argument with a match official. He just puts his head down and gets the job done and excudes a calmness and professionalism while he’s doing it.
He appears to love playing football and love playing for Arsenal and you just get the feeling that if the Real Madrids or Inter Milans of the world come knocking – he’ll be happy to stay right where he is.
Song appears to be one of the genuinely nice guys in football and I wish him all the best in Angola. There are plenty of Arsenal fans who would like to see Cameroon bow out early so we can get our man back – but I’m not one of them.
This competition means a lot to African football fans and I sincerely hope Song can put in some strong performances and help guide Cameroon to the trophy. As long as he comes back in one piece, of course.
Well done Alex on a fantastic year.
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