Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has thanked Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for standing by him during the shame of his failed drugs test - and insists the Frenchman will emerge stronger from his present crisis.

Toure returned to action for City in their Carling Cup win over Birmingham on Wednesday night, ending a six-month absence. The centre-back was banned after taking a prohibited substance in an effort to control his weight last season.

And Toure will never forget the actions of Wenger, his former manager, and ex-Arsenal director David Dein, who always made themselves available as a sounding board. He said: "I want to thank two people who have been really important to me - David Dein and Mr Wenger."

Toure added: "They have been supporting me and never let me down. I want to thank them very, very much."


 

Although the possibility of a two-year suspension hung over the 30-year-old until his disciplinary hearing was concluded in May, even six months out of the game was a nightmare to a player who had always conducted himself with dignity.

Toure will never forget the debt of gratitude he owes to Wenger.

It was the Frenchman who brought him to England from the Ivory Coast as a raw 20-year-old, turning him into a player still good enough nine years later for City to pay £16million to make him a pivotal part of their development under owner Sheikh Mansour.

"I would never say a bad word about Mr Wenger," said Toure.

"He is somebody that makes players better. I came from nowhere. I was in Africa and nobody believed in me. I had been at a lot of clubs that didn't take me. This guy made me what I am now."

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