- Former Arsenal player Johan Djourou has revealed his passion for acting and recent stage training.
- Djourou talks about the emotional connection he has with Arsenal and the transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.
- Alongside acting, he is actively involved in coaching and punditry, reflecting a multifaceted post-football career.
Having made 144 appearances for the Gunners, Djourou now looks to embark on a new journey, nurturing his love for acting, coaching, and punditry.
Alongside this, the Swiss star opens up about his connection to Arsenal, his nostalgia for Highbury, and his perspective on the club’s journey since the move to Emirates Stadium.
A new journey: From pitch to stage
“You know, being around my teammates, inside the dressing room, the adrenaline before games… you cannot replace any of these things, but for me it’s the smell of the pitch. You can’t replace those feelings that come from being in that environment,” Djourou explained.
As he expressed his love for football he also acknowledged the excitement for his new life, including coaching young girls and working as a pundit.
The transition from Highbury to Emirates
Djourou spent 10 crucial years at Arsenal, witnessing the shift from the historic Highbury to the 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium in 2006. While acknowledging the club’s long-term profitability through this move, he also reflected on the loss of ‘Highbury spirit.’
“Arsenal, and the whole community, it all means so much to me,” Djourou confided. The emotional connection he still feels for the club highlights the impact this change had on him and perhaps many others connected with Arsenal.
“Arsenal is special, it’s simple,” he says. “Of course, Highbury was a very special place, and then we lost a bit of our soul when we moved to the Emirates because it was so big and people just weren’t used to it.
“It’s threatened to come back again, that Highbury spirit, over the years, and I think that right now things are better than they’ve ever been. The atmosphere and belief, and the willingness for everyone to want to feel a part of this project, it’s back. It’s beautiful to see.
“I really respect all of those fans. Football is a game where you go through so many emotions as supporters. You’ll have great years, and then you’ll have hard times where you don’t win anything and people give you stick. But Arsenal is a massive club, known all around the world, and I just feel like big things are around the corner.”
Beyond Football: Coaching, punditry, and dreams of acting
Retiring from football in 2021 with FC Nordsjaelland, citing physical pain, Djourou has remained quite busy. From setting up his football academy to working as a pundit on French TV and in Switzerland, he’s embracing various roles.
Yet, it is his aspiration to become an actor that captures the imagination. “I once said one of my goals after football was to become an actor,” Djourou said, and he seems to be actively working towards this goal. The stage training last summer is just the beginning of this exciting chapter.
“It was amazing, actually. It’s a huge investment, though, and right now I’m in a position where I really want to give young kids access to their dreams in football.
“I’m more focused about football at this moment in time, like my daughter is currently playing in my team and I see how passionate she is.
“I see the passion in all of these kids’ eyes. We know it’s a tricky world and it’s a tough business, but I want to give every kid the opportunity to achieve their goals.
“For me, as a young player, not a lot of people were saying I was going to make it as a professional footballer, especially as I hadn’t played in the top division in my country, but I made it.
“It’s all about your commitment and your discipline; how driven you are to achieve your goals, and that’s what I want to give to young players today. There’s plenty of time for the acting side of things, for sure!”
Johan Djourou’s passion for football, Arsenal, and the community that supported him during his decade-long journey with the club is palpable.
His reflections on the transition from Highbury and his dreams beyond football paint a vivid picture of a man who’s not just about the game.
From the pitch to the stage, Djourou’s journey is a captivating story of evolution and ambition.