It was on this day in 1986, that, former Sunderland and French National Centre-Back Younes Kaboul was born. Born in Saint-Julien-en-Genervois (Haute-Savoire), Younes began his youth career at Bellegarde, Concordia and Plastics Valée. He then later joined Auxerre, where he started his professional career...
Kaboul grew up in the Rhône-Alpes region of eastern France - close to the Swiss border and he had three sisters, with him being the only boy and the youngest in the family. He said: "My dad used to push me to play football. He played and I was into tennis. It was a choice between the two and tennis was too expensive, so I stopped."
In addition to speaking French, he speaks English, and, during his time at Tottenham, Kaboul had been involved in campaigning against racism in English football – something so important in the society we live in today.
In the 2004-05 season, Kaboul made his debut for Auxerre, playing the whole 90 mins versus Tolouse – on the 3rd of October. It was just 3 weeks later, on the 21st of October, Kaboul made his European debut against Grazer AK – a game that ended in a 0-0 draw.
The 2004-05 season also started well for Younes, who made 15 appearances in all competitions, and subsequently helping them to win the Coupe de France in 2005, as well as having European football experience within the UEFA cup.
At the start of the 2006-07 season, Kaboul began strong, playing both legs against Farul Constanta in the 3rd round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup, helping Auxerre to win 4-2 on aggregate.
It was at this point Kaboul became a regular for the club, developing his skills at centre back. After many successful starts for the club, Kaboul moved into the English Premier League, and left being known as the ‘back-bone’ of the club. He was renowned for his tackling skills, good judgement and strength, and ultimately was remembered for many key goals scored within numerous competitions.
Kaboul signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on the 5th of July 2007, for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £8 million. He quickly became a fan favourite, admired for his power and aggression on the pitch. He made his Premier League debut starting alongside Anthony Gardner at centre-back in a 1–0 loss against Sunderland on the first day of the 2007–08 season – (just Sunderland’s luck!…)
In a following match against Everton, Kaboul suffered a hamstring injury and was substituted in the 18th minute, as Tottenham lost 3–1, and, after missing two matches, he returned to the starting line-up against Fulham on the 1st of September – going on to score his first goal for the club, in a 3–3 draw. After a few more goals, and numerous positive appearances, things started to go downhill for the defender.
Prior to the appointment of Juande Ramos, Kaboul rotated in the CB position with little competition from other defenders, but began making numerous errors – seeing him out of the team on many occasions. Ahead of the 2008–09 season, Kaboul said that he wanted to stay at Tottenham and fight for his place in the first team. This came after Ramos was keen on selling him.
Kaboul was linked with a move to Juventus, Portsmouth, Hamburg, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United. And, ironically by June, he announced his intention to leave the club for the sake of his career.
On the 11th of August 2008, Kaboul signed a 4-year contract at Portsmouth, for a fee believed to be around £6 million. Hr made his debut in the opening game of the season versus Chelsea, but sadly lot 4-0. Since joining the club, Kaboul was found to be fighting for his position at CB and was in and out of the starting 11.
His first goal came during a 2-2 draw against AC Milan, and, despite suffering injuries, made 25 appearances, scoring 2 goals. At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, he continued to establish himself in the first team, playing at both RB and CB. He scored from headers, and of course, helped Portsmouth to keep 3 clean sheets in one week!
After coming back from suspension, Kaboul continued to receive yellow and red cards, and was rumoured to leave in the January transfer window. It was at this point, he began to be left out of the team, and amid the rumours, played his final game on the 26th of January. In total, Kaboul made 50 appearances for the club, scoring 5 goals.
On the 30th of January 2010, Tottenham Hotspur announced that Kaboul would be re-joining the club for an undisclosed fee, reported to be £9.5 million. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp stated that Kaboul was "much improved" from his first spell at the club, and that he was a "late developer". Kaboul remained a solid part of the team, and despite injuries was a pivotal player – one with a renound temper.
Ahead of the 2014-15 season, Kaboul was, once again, linked with a move away from Tottenham, and clubs such as Besiktas, West Ham, and rivals Arsenal were keen to sign him. At the beginning of the season, he helped the club gain 3 out of 4 clean sheets and went on to become club captain.
However, by mid-November, Kaboul had been dropped from the first-team squad by Pochettino and the captaincy was given to Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane. It was in the summer of 2015 Kaboul signed for Sunderland.
On 16 July 2015, Kaboul signed for Sunderland on a four-year contract (for an undisclosed fee). He was previously linked with a move to Roma, Beşiktaş and West Ham, who both rekindled their interest in signing the player, all before he made his move to Sunderland.
Kaboul made his Sunderland debut on 8 August, playing the entirety of a 4–2 defeat away to Leicester City in the opening game of the season. On 19 September, Kaboul was sent off for two bookable offences in his first match as the club's captain, (a 2–0 defeat away to AFC Bournemouth). After the match, the Daily Mirror called him "the most ill-disciplined Premier League player ever".
At the start of the season, Kaboul struggled for form and fitness under Dick Advocaat and was further side-lined when he suffered injuries that in total kept him out for three months.
It was not until the 1st of March 2016 that Kaboul returned to the first team, coming on as a 28th-minute substitute for John O'Shea in a 2–2 draw against Crystal Palace. Following this, new manager Sam Allardyce paired Kaboul with new defensive signing Lamine Koné in the latter stages of the season, where they kept two clean sheets. The pair formed an effective partnership as Sunderland improved defensively, culminating in a man of the match performance from Kaboul in a 3–0 victory over Everton on the 11th of May. A game that secured the club's Premier League survival and left Kaboul in tears during post-match celebrations....
His passion was clear and well received.
He went on to make 23 appearances in all competitions in the 2015–16 season, but, in the 2016-17 season, Kaboul made only one appearance in a 2–1 defeat to Manchester City. And understandably, he wanted to leave Sunderland to return to the London area for personal reasons, and the club went on to accept a bit from Watford - the club where he remained playing till 2017.
But it was not until December 2018, that Kaboul left on mutual terms (after 25 appearances and 2 goals). Upon his departure Kaboul said he was ‘taking a break from professional football’ and was aiming to ‘get his badges and go into coaching’. He later retired from professional football. after a long-winded career across France, and a somewhat decorated set of appearances up and down England.