Johan Djourou Familie – Danon Issouf is the author of this article. Johan Djourou Gbadjere, better known as Johan Djourou, is a former professional footballer from Switzerland who played as a central defender. “Pacity, power, and wholehearted devotion” are just some of the words used to describe Djourou on the Arsenal website.
After initially being trained as a defensive midfielder at his previous club, Étoile Carouge, he was switched to the centre back position at Arsenal. While on loan at Birmingham City, he was used as a full back by Arsenal and as a centre midfielder by the Gunners. Before joining Hamburger SV, he played on loan at Hannover 96 in 2013 and then signed a permanent deal with the club that year. The former Hamburg player went on to play for Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor, Serie A side SPAL, and Swiss Super League side Sion after leaving Hamburg.
Switzerland international Djourou made his debut for the national team in March 2006 and went on to play 75 times for the country. He played in three FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships for the country.
Born to Ivorian parents Joachim and Angeline Djourou and adopted by his father’s first wife, a Swiss woman, he grew up in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. As Djourou came to realise later in life, he was raised by two mothers.
At 17 months old, they relocated to Geneva, where he grew up. As a baby, Djourou would “grab balls in stores and play football in the store,” according to his father. Payerne Training Center when he was 13 and joined Étoile Carouge in 2002 as a midfielder at 15 in the local second level. On August 1, 2003, he became an Arsenal player.
On 27 October 2004, Djourou earned his first senior Arsenal start in a 3–1 League Cup victory over Everton, having previously appeared after 89 minutes of the similar encounter against Manchester City in the previous round. He appeared in three games at the end of the season in 2004–05. A two-year extension to Djourou’s contract was signed with the club on January 21st, 2005.
Against Reading in the League Cup Round of 16, he made his first appearance of the 2005–06 season, starting the entire game and helping Reading win 3–0. After that, he took part in the meeting with Cardiff City in the third round of the competition.
For his entire Premiership debut for Arsenal, Djourou played alongside Philippe Senderos as centre back in the 7–0 win over Middlesbrough on 14 January 2006. The Gunners fell 1–0 to Bolton Wanderers in their FA Cup fourth-round tie with him in a patchwork defence.
He appeared in the Premier League games against West Ham United, Birmingham City, and Bolton Wanderers during the month of February 2006. A five-match absence from the first team saw him come on as a substitute in Arsenal’s 5–0 win over Aston Villa, replacing the injured Eboué. On April 12, 2006, Djourou made his league debut in a 1–1 draw against Portsmouth, in which Sol Campbell made his comeback. Since then, he has appeared in twelve games across all competitions.
Manager Arsène Wenger announced after the World Cup that he intends to use Djourou in the first team come the new season. Aston Villa drew 1–1 with Arsenal on the opening day of the season in the Emirates Stadium’s maiden match.
In the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, Djourou appeared in both legs of Arsenal’s 5–1 aggregate win over Dinamo Zagreb. First, he helped the Gunners retain two different clean sheets between September 17th and 23rd and October 14th to 22nd, 2006.  After signing a six-year contract extension with the club, Djourou was revealed on 1 November 2006.
Due to his international commitments, he had to miss four games before returning to the first team against Fulham on Nov. 29 of that year as a 65th-minute replacement. Two successive clean sheets against Tottenham Hotspur and FC Porto came after this.
Two months later, Djourou was sidelined with an injury and only appeared in two games. At the beginning of February 2007, he made his return to the first team in a 2–1 win over Wigan Athletic, playing 51 minutes before being taken off. A knee ailment kept Djourou out for the entire month of February, so his return was short-lived.
There were no more appearances for him in the starting line-up until 3 March 2007 against Reading, which they won 2–1. The final game of the season against Portsmouth saw Djourou return to the Arsenal starting lineup after a two-month absence, playing in a defensive midfield role. He made 30 appearances in all competitions at the end of the 2006–07 season.
On August 10, 2007, Djourou joined Birmingham City on a five-month loan from Paris Saint-Germain. Two days later, he made his debut against Chelsea, who had won the FA Cup and League Cup in the previous season. For Birmingham, Djourou saved a goal from Frank Lampard to keep them in the game, which Chelsea eventually won 3–2 on aggregate.
Between the 15th and 22nd of September, 2007, he helped the team keep two straight clean sheets against Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool. Djourou’s loan spell at Birmingham City ended on December 22, 2007, when he gave away a goal to Bolton Wanderers’ Nicolas Anelka with a wayward throw-in. He made his final appearance for the team at this point.
A total of 13 appearances in all competitions were made for Djourou by the time he returned to parent club Arsenal.