' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

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' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

Postby Forever Blue » Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:01 am

Sol Bamba on beating cancer, support of Neil Warnock, training with Middlesbrough & what next

The defender tells Dominic Shaw about how he attacked his cancer battle with positivity, his relationship with Boro's boss Warnock and his management dream



To Sol Bamba, Neil Warnock is so much more than a former manager. He's a close friend. A father figure.

Bamba thought his future lay with Welsh club Cardiff City, but after thinking he had a coaching job and another season playing, he was released and his friend Warnock called him up to Middlesborough.


With Neil Warnock,Bamba has always appreciated Warnock telling it like it is, "he is honest and you know where you are and so i went straight up to see him after being released by Cardiff."



Football 72 / Inside football

Teeside live

Monday 26th July 2021


Throughout Bamba's darkest and most difficult days, Warnock was a constant. Always on the phone. Always checking on him. Always offering advice.

Earlier this summer, it was Bamba who picked up the phone and asked Warnock whether it would be possible to train with Boro. There was only ever going to be one answer.

Bamba was on the phone to Cardiff City club's doctor last year when he received the shattering news that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. It was Christmas Eve.



SOL BAMBA:

"We waited until after Christmas to tell the family," the 36-year-old tells Teesside Live.

"For me and the missus it was obviously so difficult, but we felt like we wanted people to enjoy their Christmas, I didn't want my family to be worried on Christmas Day. After Christmas we sat with the kids, the family, close friends and explained. Normally Christmas is such a fun and joyous time with family and friends, we still had that. Me being me, I said to my missus, let's do Christmas as normal, then we'll pick it up after. We spent Christmas with the family and enjoyed it as much as we could."


Bamba continues: "I am a very positive person. When the doctor told me on Christmas Eve it was hard, it was hard for me to tell the family, the kids. But the next minute I was like right what's my next step, because I want to get better, I need to get better, for my family, the kids, for everyone.

"I've always been positive but of course there were times when I was down. I went through chemo, there were some difficult, difficult months. When I had those tough times, I stayed away, because I didn't want the kids to see me like that, I don't want the missus to see me like that. I want to send the right message and be positive all the time. But I had those difficult moments, I'm not going to lie and pretend everything was fine and I didn't have those moments. But I knew those moments would pass.

"You have to be positive. If you're not positive what chance do you stand."

Bamba was right. Those moments did pass. In May, the likeable defender announced he was cancer-free and came off the bench to return to action for the final seconds of Cardiff's game against Rotherham on the last weekend of the Championship season.

"To be told I was cancer free, it was honestly more of a relief," he says.

"Because I'm so positive, I always knew I'd be OK. But when the doctor says that to you, it's just such a relief, and then to be able to tell the kids, family and friends.

"The football and coming on for that first game back, that's just a bonus really.

"I used to believe football was everything - playing games, training, winning. But when you go through something like that, it puts it into perspective and you start thinking differently. Obviously I was very, very happy to be back, but that was just a plus, a bonus.

"For me to come back in, even for 10 seconds, it was like the worst is behind me, I can look forward to the future and this is the first step."

So what is the future? After returning to action in May, Bamba made it clear he wasn't finished with the game, he wasn't ready to hang up his boots. He wants to play one more season, but not for the sake of it, he wants to prove he's still got something to offer.

The link-up with Boro suits everyone. Bamba gets to work on his fitness and Boro's players benefit from picking the brains of a leader who has played more than 350 professional games.




Could it lead to a permanent deal at Boro?

"If I said to you it hasn't been discussed I'd be lying and I'm not a liar," says Bamba.

"We're just waiting to see and taking one step at a time. The gaffer knows me, I know him. He knows I'll get as fit as I can and I'll help him, and he knows I can do a job. But first and foremost I have to feel right and get fit. We'll see what happens."

Bamba adds: "It's been well documented I said I wanted to do another year, but I won't do it if I don't feel OK and I won't do it for the sake of it. I want to do it right.

"Right now, I feel good. That's the most important thing. At the minute I'm just training, we'll see how my fitness is. If I get another opportunity to do another year I will do it, if not I will go straight into coaching. I'm doing my badges. If I have to stop I will stop and start my journey as a future manager."

If he does go into management, Bamba will treasure the time he has spent playing for and working so closely with Warnock, and there's one particular element of the Boro boss' skill-set that he'll take into the dugout with him.

"His man-management, 100%," says Bamba.

"I always say to him, how do you do it? He knows when people need a rest, he knows when people need a shouting at, he knows when people need an arm around them. He said 'if I said to you I know I'd be lying, it's just instinct'.

"His man management is unbelievable."



Bamba adds: "The relationship I have with the gaffer is beyond a manager and a player, he's a friend, a family friend.

"When he rings, the first thing he asks about is my family - the missus, the kids, my mam. What I've been through, he was with me every step of the way, calling regularly to see how I am, if I needed any help, any advice. Obviously his wife Sharon went through this as well. He was fantastic. I can't speak highly enough of him, he's been so good throughout my career and he's been there for me as a player and a person, especially when it was tough last year.

"When I moved from Cardiff, i was saddened after believing i was staying another season and so i came back up north, instead of just being in the house or training in the gym I asked if I could come to Boro and train."

"He was happy to help. And he never changes in training, I said that to him and he said to me that I'm the same and I can't stop moaning. I said it's impossible not to moan when you see some of his refereeing decisions in the training games!"

Bamba has always appreciated Warnock telling it like it is. When the pair were together at Cardiff, the defender once said: “Before we go out, the gaffer always reminds me and says: ‘Don’t be Beckenbauer. Just kick or head it. When it’s on, pass it, but if it’s not on, just put it up there.’ And that’s why I like him – he’s honest.”

Bamba didn't travel to Devon with the first team squad this week, instead staying at Rockliffe to train with the Under-23s, turning out at Redcar on Wednesday night.

"I really enjoyed that, it was good to be be back playing and it was so good to be in front of a crowd," he says.

"The lads were all good to me, the coaches, the whole club has been very good to me."

While Bamba enjoyed the run-out, this week, at Rockliffe and at Redcar, has been a great opportunity for the Academy youngsters to observe and learn from the experienced defender, a natural leader.

"That's just me," says Bamba, when quizzed on his leadership qualities, something Warnock has admitted he lacks in his first team squad.

"I've been with the kids all this week and all the coaches and the kids themselves have said it's great to have you around, you give us good advice, you train well, you're professional. I'm here to help them. I was young before and I had good professionals help me. I just want to give back. The first team was the same, I've been playing a long time so have played against a lot of the lads over the years. They've been very good as well, welcomed me in the dressing room. When I can help them I do, and I'll see where that is going to take me."

Do you want an exclusive pre-season Middlesbrough preview - both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy.

Bamba knows what it takes to get out of the Championship having won promotion with Cardiff, so what does he make of Boro's chances this season having studied the squad up-close?

"The squad is good, but everyone knows it is low on numbers," he says.

"There's the quality for sure and Boro can do very well this season. Play-offs, top two you never know, but they definitely need more bodies. The squad is thin and you know what the Championship is like - Tuesday, Saturday, it's relentless, you need a big squad. If the gaffer manages to get a few more players there's every chance to have a good season for sure."

Bamba would like to be part of it, but whether his short term future ends up being at Boro or elsewhere, he's extremely grateful for the support from the club this summer.

"I have to say, everybody at the football club from top to bottom has been wonderful with me," he says.

"If I sign or if I don't sign, it's irrelevant, I have to say a big thank you to every single person involved because they've made me so welcome. I don't take it for granted. I've been to a lot of clubs in a lot of countries and let me tell you not every club is like this. I have to say a big thank you to the gaffer first of all, but the whole Middlesbrough family."
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' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

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Re: ' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

Postby Sven » Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:53 am

Good luck, Sol...

You're a class act and mssing you already! :notworthy: :ayatollah:
"The narcissist measures and judges but will not tolerate being judged or measured..."
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Re: ' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

Postby Forever Blue » Mon Jul 26, 2021 11:54 am

Sven wrote:Good luck, Sol...

You're a class act and missing you already! :notworthy: :ayatollah:





I second that :cry: :bluebird: :bluebird: :bluebird:
Annis Jnr Author and Publisher of 7 Books.

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http://www.annisabraham.co.uk/books/buy-books/
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Re: ' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

Postby Scoularite » Mon Jul 26, 2021 2:22 pm

I had hoped that he would have become part of our coaching setup.

Really hope it works out well for him.
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Re: ' SOL BAMBA SAYS HOW HE FEELS '

Postby wez1927 » Mon Jul 26, 2021 6:47 pm

Good luck to him .
CARDIFF CITY TILL I DIE !
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