Sol Bamba: ‘We talk about injuries but you never think about cancer’

“I don’t think I deserved any credit, but it’s important to talk about it.” Sol Bamba by no means sought after reassurance however he’s by no means been specifically shy: whether or not it’s to lambast a teammate for a mistake, or howl no-holes-barred at his supervisor at the touchline; so why wouldn’t he discuss having most cancers?

Bamba’s global was once thrown into tumult when he was once identified with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2021. He had triumph over plethora in his occupation to that time, however this was once a problem that will have floored many.

His goodbye as a Premier League participant lower than two years previous had come on a stretcher later an ACL rupture at Wolves en path to relegation with Cardiff. Previous in 2019, the membership were rocked by way of Emiliano Sala’s dying, with no person nearer to the brandnew signing in-waiting than Bamba, who had exchanged messages in French with Sala ahead of tragedy struck.

However Bamba, the previous centre-back who Neil Warnock frequently described as a “colossus”, grappled along with his most cancers prognosis in the similar approach he approached each and every alternative problem in his occupation – head on. He was once extensively lauded for elevating consciousness of the disorder, converting perceptions in a recreation that merely didn’t need to point out the C-word.

“The way I went about it, people gave me praise … it was too much,” he says. “That’s just what I’m like. I understand some people prefer to shy away from it, but I’m different. I’m just being myself.

“Even clubs now are being careful now when they do medical checks, all the way from Premier League to League Two, which is massive. In our game we talk about injuries but you never think about cancer.”

Bamba were given the all-clear in Would possibly 2021, despite the fact that says he nonetheless needs to be “careful” and can pay usual visits to the physician. “Unfortunately when you’ve had cancer once, you always have to double check and make sure it doesn’t come back. Is it behind me 100%? Well, I wish but you never know.”

Sol Bamba within the thick of the motion for Cardiff at Watford in December 2018. {Photograph}: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans/Shutterstock

That he returned to the sound lower than 5 months later his prognosis, taking part in in a 1-1 draw with Rotherham at the ultimate month of the season, was once noteceable. He nearest sealed a journey to secured his worn lecturer Warnock at Middlesbrough for the 2021-22 marketing campaign and received a unique park in Boro folklore by way of placing the profitable penalty at Manchester United in an FA Cup victory in February 2022. It was once a much-cherished, genuinely-earned life of leisure in opposition to the top of his taking part in occupation.

But it surely was once with Warnock at Cardiff the place Bamba felt actually at house, serving to them earn an not going promotion from the Championship in 2017-18, with the Ivorian one of the crucial perfect gamers within the section that past. He nonetheless refers to Warnock as “the gaffer”.

“I never had that feeling in over 20 years in other teams,” says Bamba of his 5 years in south Wales. “The gaffer used to say in meetings: ‘What you’ve got is special, so enjoy it and make the most of it.’ It was definitely special. Everything just clicked at Cardiff, the fans, the media, everything. You need that to be successful; everyone has to be on the same page. I don’t think the club has been the same since.”

Bamba went again to Cardiff as a teacher utmost season and sampled that for himself, serving to to rescue the membership from relegation to League One as worker supervisor to Sabri Lamouchi, his former Ivory Coast supervisor.

“I was there the last six months and it was different, you could feel it from top to bottom. What I was disappointed with – and I said this to the board – is that the mentality of the team should never change. It’s like at Man City now, you know how they play and what the manager wants. But at Cardiff City you don’t know. At every club you need to know what the values are, and Cardiff lost that when that [Warnock] team broke up.”

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Bamba and Lamouchi had been shed by way of Cardiff, who grew to become to the Turkish supervisor Erol Bulut in the summertime, depart the previous defender outdoor the sport for the primary life in 20 years.

He’s the usage of this era correctly, passing some long-awaited downtime along with his spouse, Chloe, and 3 kids and residing akin to his formative years house within the outer boulevards of Paris, date finishing the Uefa Professional licence in an effort to his after task. “I’m making the most of it with everything I’ve been through,” he says.

That steely decision hasn’t ever long gone away. He’s prepared to get again within the sport, whether or not as Lamouchi’s Deny 2 once more or off his personal bat as a supervisor.

“You enjoy it as much as you can for a few weeks, months. But then you definitely want to get back in. Football has always been part of my life. It’s all about opportunities.”

What a few reunion with Warnock? The veteran supervisor, 74, has now not dominated out taking any other task later depart Huddersfield in September and would fortuitously have his unswerving lieutenant Bamba along him.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spoken to him,” says Bamba. “He wanted to help me out. I wouldn’t mind working under him. Everyone knows how much I value and love the man.”


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