Part three of the My Season series turns its attention to Ivorian hot-shot Arouna Kone.
Arouna Kone arrived at the DW Stadium in August 2012 with 15 goals behind him from the 2011/12 with La Liga side Levante, something which he admitted had put him in the best form of his life.
Upon arriving and before settling into his new challenge of striving for Premier League goals Kone said:
“I think I’m in the best moment of my career and the best for of my life.
“I’m very happy to be here, I’ve just accomplished a dream and I’m very eager to get started at the club.”
Kone scored a total of 13 goals in all competitions for Latics in the 2012/13 season, with 11 goals in the Premier League, just two away from Henri Camara’s record of 13 in a single top flight campaign.
The Ivorian’s latest goal for the club came in the dramatic 3-2 victory over West Bromwich Albion early last month, but it all started for the 29-year-old back in September 2012 when he scored his first goal for the club against Southampton (pictured celebrating left), a goal he dedicated to the fans, saying:
“I’m really happy with the way the fans have encouraged me.
“I’m glad that my goal gave them a good feeling on their long trip home from Southampton.
“My first Wigan Athletic goal was for them and to thank them for the way they welcomed me to the club.”
Kone went on to score three goals in his first seven appearances for the club and by the end of December he had netted five times, before leaving the club on international duty as he represented Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, something he says he returned from in peak condition.
“Physically I feel great and I’m delighted to be back at the club because it’s time for me to be involved again.
“I’m determined to add to my goal tally and make sure I return well.”
And return well he did, as his first two starts since arriving back from the tournament in South Africa garnered four goals.
Kone’s FA Cup debut saw him score twice against Huddersfield Town, before bagging two more in the league just six days later in the 3-0 away win against Reading.
His contribution for Latics in those two games saw the club progress to the quarter finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1987 and lifted the side out of the bottom three in the Premier League.
Kone’s team mates didn’t let his impact go unnoticed, Franco Di Santo said:
“Arouna is a very good striker and he makes games enjoyable to play in because his work rate is so high.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve played up front with and has been very good for us.”
“It fills you with confidence when you’ve got someone like Arouna up front.
“His work rate and his ability to hold the ball up are as good as anybody in the Premier League.”
The pinnacle of Kone’s season is undoubtedly the club’s triumph in the FA Cup final against Manchester City, the striker’s first major honour since 2007 when he won the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven and Kone said it was a privilege just to have played at Wembley Stadium.
“To play at Wembley was a real dream come true for me, as it is for any player.
“It was a great occasion for everyone involved and just to be lucky enough to be chosen to play was a huge personal honour.”
Speaking at the FA Cup parade in Wigan town centre Kone added:
“It was brilliant that we could make the fans so happy winning the FA Cup and everyone worked very hard to make sure it happened.
“Winning the cup means a lot to everyone and everyone can be very proud of that.”
Arouna’s season is just the third of six players we are focussing on this summer, with Roman Golobart and Jordi Gomez already featuring and Shaun Maloney coming up in just two days’ time June 14.