Not many people will know of the side ASEC Mimosa (popularly colloquialized to ASEC Abidjan) yet their impact is an ever growing one on the English and European game.
The club itself has a rich history, but much of today’s current stars owe a lot to former French international Jean-Marc Guillou who managed the side for seven years between 1993 and 2000. He is the man who gave Arsene Wenger his first shot in football and upon his appointment with The Mimosas he established the Academie MimoSifcom. The motto of ‘may the children have fun... by playing football’ has earmarked their desire for free-flowing patterns of play; full of expression and exuberance and when you look at the names who have graced the mustard kits of this historic side you can see how that motto was apparent.
Currently the Championship’s hot property is Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha. Fast, strong and technically aware; Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea have been informed ‘hands off’ by Palace manager Dougie Freedman and the Eagles board members. As a child in Abidjan he played with the side yet currently represents England at under-21-level, a consequence of his early emigration to London.
But he is not alone as a long list of ASEC academy graduates have emerged as top talents in the Premier League and worldwide. While Cote D’Ivoire’s legendary striker Dider Drogba slipped through their grasp due to his continual rehabitual living in France The Elephants record appearance holder and former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder/defender Dider Zokora was a former player. The other alumni are equally as illustrious; Emmanuel Eboue, Salomon Kalou, Romaric and Arthur Boka to name a few.
Then there are current Premier League stars.
Gervinho, Kolo Toure and his more illustrious brother Yaya are also ex-alumni of the famed academy.
They all moved on with Guillou to Belgian side Beveren, who they once had a successful partnership with until 2006. Beveren’s co-existing partnership with Arsenal was born out of Guillou and Wenger’s previous friendship and saw the recommendation of Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and later on Gervinho to the North London side.
After years of producing top quality talent the future also looks bright for English sides to benefit from this clubs excellent rearing of talent. With Zaha already one great example current Manchester City and former Palace team-mate Abdul Razak is also a young talent from the ASEC Academy. The partnership they once had with Beveren is now with Charlton Athletic who will hope to unearth future Yaya Toure’s and Gervinho’s of their own.
Here is an XI of former ASEC Abidjan players…
GK: Boubacar Barry
DR: Emmanuel Eboue
DL: Arthur Boka
DC: Kolo Toure
DC: Didier Zokora
MF: Yaya Toure
MF: Siaka Tiene
MF: Abdul Razak
FW: Salomon Kalou
FW: Wilfried Zaha
image: © marc_tacoma