How do you remember Djimi Traore? Terrible footballer who scored a joke own goal to send Liverpool out of the FA Cup, or Champions League winning hero whose goal-line clearance helped the Reds complete the Miracle of Istanbul?
Chances are it’s the former. And rightly so. Djimi Traore wasn’t a top quality player and certainly fell short of the standard most LFC fans expect. His 120 minutes in Istanbul somewhat glossed over the other 87 appearances in a red shirt that regularly had fans groaning and demanding better (Yes. He played that many times…).
But, although he wasn’t right for Liverpool, the Mali international has gone on to achieve some moderate success by his own standards. After floating around a handful of clubs, including AS Monaco FC and Marseille, the defender landed state side with MLS franchise the Seattle Sounders FC.
In keeping with his Anfield tenure, Traore found himself to be gaining somewhat of a cult status on the West Coast, albeit for different reasons. The left back scored a couple of important goals of true quality during his playing days at Seattle, including a 30 yard, Tony Yeboah eat your heart out, style volley to help his team become the first MLS side to knockout a Mexican team in the CONCACAF Champions League.
In truth, the former Liverpool man probably found his comfort level in the MLS. Although he was capable of solid games at a higher level, as evidenced by holding down the left side against AC Milan as Liverpool poured forward in the second half, consistency was easier to come by in America.
As is often the case, we as fans oversimplify situations and players. While most simply recall a clownish goal line blunder to surmise Traore’s career, the truth is he learnt a lot while at Liverpool. It’s to be expected, considering the regular contact he had with top quality players and staff that were at the club during his seven years. It was these experiences that he used in the latter stages of his career in America to go from comedian to respected mentor.
Former teammate and current Newcastle United player, DeAndre Yedlin, was quick to highlight the importance of Traore in his development. Speaking to SoundersFC.com, Yedlin stated: “I think the first day I met Djimi he introduced himself and I knew who he was, obviously, but I didn’t know how much of a mentor he would become for me. He’s almost like a father figure…”
The ex-Liverpool fullback developed such a strong bond with the Sounders, their fans, and indeed the city of Seattle itself that he decided to stick around after hanging up his boots in 2014. He is now considered an integral part of the MLS club. A club that has seen good success over recent years, winning the 2017 MLS cup, and being runner up in 2018.
He initially honed his coaching trade for the S2, a somewhat academy/reserve team hybrid. He graduated from there to become the Sounders defensive coach specialist, before being promoted again to Assistant Coach, a position he holds today.
At 37, Traore his firmly established his roots in the coaching game and appears to have found a home at the Seattle Sounders that will produce longevity. An impressive feat in a league dominated with the need for instant success and accustomed to extremely high turnover and trades. One man that has been at the club for the entire “Traore era” is current Head Coach Brian Schmezter. Understandably, he
speaks very highly of his assistant, highlighting: “He’s played in some big games for our team and across his overall career. His [experience] helps perpetuate this idea of a club, a true club. These are moments that continue to be created through good people like Djimi.” (SoundersFC.com).
With FSG as owners and regular US pre-season tours, who knows, Liverpool and Djimi Traore could be reunited again sometime soon. Certainly Seattle, with an average attendance of close to 45,000, is likely a market the club would like to show their face in. Either way, congratulati