Lassana Diarra has spoken of the struggle he faced in his rise from school-boy to Premier League star.
Coaching staff doubted midfielder's future
Arsenal's Lassana Diarra has spoken of the struggle he faced in his rise from school-boy to Premier League star.
The 22-year-old signed for The Gunners from Chelsea on transfer deadline day for a reported fee of £2million.
After a month at Emirates Stadium, Diarra has explained his reasons for joining Arsene Wenger's side and described the difficulties he came across as a teenager.
The versatile midfielder went into detail about how the coaching staff at Nantes and Le Mans wrote off his chances of succeeding at a high level, questioning his height and physique.
"I spent two years at Nantes. I was 15 when they told me I was too small," he told the Daily Star.
"They said I could play, but it would be very difficult for me, so I went back home to be with my family.
"My dad said it was better to try to find another team, so I went to Le Mans where I was for six months.
"I had some bad experiences there because I am African. I was young and on my own and the club did not treat me very well.
"You had to have a letter to find a new club and for 18 months they did not give it to me, so I just lived a normal life, going to school.
"Eventually I was given the letter and wrote to a number of clubs. Le Havre invited me for a trial.
"It was a very good experience and Chelsea found me. I spoke to the person at Nantes who told me I was too small. He said it was not his fault and he blamed someone else!"
Best team in England
However, Diarra has now proved himself to be an accomplished player and is in line to make his sixth start for France in Saturday's game against the Faroe Islands.
He has yet to establish himself in Arsene Wenger's side but after a convincing display in the Carling Cup victory against Newcastle, further opportunities are likely to be around the corner.
The youngster explained that Arsenal's passing-style and free-flowing football made signing for them an easy decision.
"Arsenal's football and Chelsea's is not the same. For me, Arsenal is a more technical team, it is better for me to play football and learn the game," he added.
"I came here to play a lot of matches and win a lot of trophies and to progress with the best team in England."