Professional Football Player
Bakari "Baky The Mouse Man" Koné is an Ivorian football striker who plays for the Côte d'Ivoire national team and Qatar League side Lekhwiya.
Like many other Ivorian stars, he began his career at the famed youth academy at ASEC Mimosas, run by Frenchman Jean-Marc Guillou in his home country. Guillou recalls: "One day, when I was passing through his district, some kids stopped me. They kept saying, ‘We’ve got Pelé living here, you’ve got to take a look at him’. Then Kone came along. He was slightly built but I never doubted for one moment that he was a real find. I took him into the academy after a trial of just ten minutes, but I did tell him that the Pele nickname would have to go. That's when he became Baky, and I think it's better that way."
Koné stayed at the academy for five years before joining the first team squad and turning professional in 1999. During his time with the ASEC first team Bakari won the Ivorian League three times, and also the African Supercup before moving on.
In 2002, he joined Qatari club Al-Ittihad, staying in the Gulf for just six months, before moving to France where he joined the then Ligue 2 outfit FC Lorient following a successful trial. It was here that Koné rose to fame. In his first season at the club he scored a respectable 10 goals, but then bagged an impressive 24 in 35 appearances in the 2004–05 season, earning him the Player of the Year and Top Scorer titles in the Ligue 2. At the end of the season, Lorient narrowly missed out on promotion to Ligue 1, and with speculation mounting linking the Ivorian to top flight sides such as OSC Lille, RC Strasbourg and AJ Auxerre, Koné received a standing ovation in his final appearance for his club. In the summer, Bakari finally made his move, relocating to the French Riviera at top flight side OGC Nice, where he signed a four-year contract.
Bakari made his Nice debut against Troyes on July 30, 2005. In his first season at the club, he made 32 appearances, scoring seven times, and eight goals in 33 appearances in his second. In his second season at the club, English side Arsenal's manager Arsène Wenger labelled him a 'phenomenon' and one of the hottest prospects in French football, leading to speculation that the forward would be playing in the English Premiership.
Bakari made an impressive start to the 2007–08 season for Nice. After signing a contract extension to 2009 with the Côte d'Azur side, he went on to score four times in his first eight appearances for the club. He won the Ligue 1 player of the month award for both September and October 2007, and finished the 2007–08 Ligue 1 season top scorer for his club, after netting 14 goals in 30 appearances for the Côte d'Azur outfit.
In June 2008, Koné began talks with French giants Olympique de Marseille with a view to move to the club. The proposed transfer was held up however, with a disagreement over the fee, a situation which caused Koné to miss pre-season training at OGC Nice apparently as a protest. The striker spoke out to state that he had been carrying an injury.
The saga went further, with Nice president Maurice Cohen stating that their south-coast rivals had till July 15 to sign the striker, otherwise the club would speak to other interested parties. One reportedly interested club was capital club Paris Saint-Germain.
The striker was quoted as saying: "I know that this is going to get sorted out but I can't tell you when. If we talk about (the) July 15 (deadline)...I'm not worried about that."
Marseille president Pape Diouf echoed Koné's comments, stating: "Ultimatums not only fail to impress me, but they also never provide a solution. Now, concerning Baki, it doesn't just depend on us but on the wishes of the two clubs and, in particular, the two presidents. Personally I think that good sense can do a lot in this case. I remain calm."
On July 17, Thursday, Koné spoke to the media once again regarding his drawn-out transfer saga. He stated: "It's heading down a good road, I hope that it is all going to be done quickly. The important thing is that the two clubs reach an understanding."
On July 18, it was announced on the official Marseille website that the transfer of the diminutive striker had been completed. The striker commented: "Marseille is a big club. It's a club that has proven its qualities in the past and continues to do it today. I wanted to take part in that."
In March 2009 Koné was named Ivorian Player of the Year, ahead of FC Barcelona midfielder Yaya Touré.
On the 26th May 2010, Koné signed for Qatar League side Lekhwiya along with his Ivorian teammate Aruna Dindane.
Koné made his international debut for the Ivorian national team against Sudan on September 5, 2004.
He was part of the Ivorian team for the 2006 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. He scored a vital equaliser against Cameroon in the quarter-final. His team won the penalty shootout 12–11. However, in the final, he was one of two Ivorian players to have his penalty saved as the Ivorians lost to hosts Egypt.
The forward was selected as part of the Ivorian side for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He was given the number 14 shirt, and played his first match for Côte d'Ivoire against the Netherlands on June 16, 2006. He scored his first World Cup goal in that match, where Côte d' Ivoire lost 2–1.
Koné was also selected as part of the Ivorian squad for the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana. He made four substitute appearances for the Elephants, and scored once against West African rivals Guinea in the quarter final stage, where the Ivorians ran out 5–1 winners.
Koné has nine brothers and five sisters. He is the older brother of fellow Ivorian international Arouna Koné, who is a striker for Spanish La Liga club Sevilla. He also has another brother who plays football, Karamoko Koné, who is part of the reserve team setup at Dutch Eredivisie club Roda JC.