Sol Bamba has no room for sentiment with Middlesbrough in last chance play-off saloon

Sol Bamba comes up against his old club Cardiff City on Wednesday for what could well be the final time in his playing career.

The fixture sees Bamba, now aged 37, and his Boro teammates host the Bluebirds in a game where anything other than a victory will almost certainly end their hopes of qualifying for the Championship play-offs. The past year has been a hugely emotional one for Bamba.

Last May he returned to playing after a four-month lay-off as he underwent treatment following his cancer diagnosis. In December 2020 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was eventually given the all-clear in May 2021.

His final appearance for Cardiff might only have been a few minutes off the bench on the final game of the season, but he admitted at the time: “I was absolutely buzzing. It was a couple of seconds but the fact that I was back on the pitch with everything I’ve been through the last four months, it was pure joy.”

That joy and happiness was tarnished somewhat by the manner of his departure from the club. After five years of loyal service, during which time he helped them clinch promotion to the Premier League, Bamba only found out about his release via the medium of Twitter.





Sol Bamba's experience could prove vital as Middlesbrough look to reach the Championship play-offs


Sol Bamba’s experience could prove vital as Middlesbrough look to reach the Championship play-offs

Bamba admitted: “If I am completely honest, I was disappointed by the way the club went about it and the way we finished it. Everyone knows me at the club, I’m a straight guy, I can handle the truth and I wanted the club to come and be straight with me and say, ‘Listen, you’re coming back from illness, we want to go in a different direction’, whatever it was, just be honest and I will take it. Fine.

“But they didn’t do that. Funnily enough, I found out I was released by Twitter. I think for everything I did for the football club, I deserved better.”

Bamba was eventually reunited with his old Cardiff boss Neil Warnock, who offered him a one-year deal at Boro as player-coach. Despite Warnock exiting in November, he has remained a firm part of the team under Chris Wilder.

He has started the last three matches and his nous and experience is likely to prove vital as Boro look to squeeze into the top six. Speaking recently about his future, Bamba admits he is uncertain as to whether he will continue for another year.

He said: “I just love to be out there. I work hard behind the scenes. I’m 37, I know the game and how it works so I keep myself fit and we train hard too so when I need to play in the game, I do the business.

“I’m the first one to say that I will stop before the football stops me like if I can’t move anymore. I will be the first to put my hands up and say it’s not for me. It’s not the case at the minute. I feel good and my body leaves me alone. Of course, I can’t play every game, I know that. With me wanting to go into coaching as well, the gaffer has been unbelievable with me learning under him and doing a couple of sessions behind the scene when I can. When my body says stop, I will stop.”





Bamba reunited with Neil Warnock at Boro at the start of this season


Bamba reunited with Neil Warnock at Boro at the start of this season

The warm affection for Wilder is clearly reciprocated by the Boro boss. After Bamba’s outstanding display in the recent draw with high-flying Bournemouth, Wilder was waxing lyrical about the centre-half.

“Sol’s performance was incredible,” Wilder purred. “For everything that he’s been through, he is some player now, so dear me, how much would he have been worth five to ten years ago? I think when you chuck in all the other little bits and pieces in: who he’s up against, the fact he’s not started since January, the quality that Bournemouth have got, not just in Solanke but in and around him too – that performance was incredible.”





Bamba spent five years at Cardiff, winning promotion to the Premier League


Bamba spent five years at Cardiff, winning promotion to the Premier League

Bamba clinched victory over his old employers when the sides last met in October, and another win at the Riverside would see Boro go within two points of Sheffield United who occupy the final play-off spot. The fairytale ending of a Wembley win is still an achievable outcome for Bamba. And if that was to happen, the veteran admits it would perhaps be the perfect way to bow out.

He added: “It would be massive. I may stop on that. For me personally, it would be massive. I don’t want to go back to what I’ve been through because I move forward but I think personally for me and for my family, it would be huge.”

Read More

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.