BOT­TLE TO AT LEEDS

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY - SOL BAMBA

for Sven Go­ran Eriks­son – the man who first brought him to Eng­land with Le­ices­ter in 2011 and later made him a main­stay of the Ivory Coast back four.

“Sven has been huge for me,” says Bamba, who qual­i­fies to play for the Ivory Coast na­tional side through his par­ents. “I’ve al­ways said that I owe him ev­ery­thing. He took me down to Eng­land and picked me for the 2010 World Cup. And apart from all of that, he’s also a great man. I have great re­spect for him and he is still some­one who I speak to regularly for ad­vice.

“Peo­ple who don’t know him might think his per­son­al­ity is cold or what­ever.

“Peo­ple who do know him re­alise he is just some­one who loves foot- ball and is in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate about the game.

“I think a lot of peo­ple for­get that Sven laid the foun­da­tions of what Le­ices­ter are to­day. He brought a lot of play­ers with good pedi­gree and if he’d had the time, I be­lieve 100 per cent he would have made it. Un­for­tu­nately, we all know football is a ruth­less busi­ness.”

Pedi­gree

It was dur­ing his spell with Le­ices­ter that Bamba met his English wife, Chloe. So with firm ties to the UK and kids in school, is Bamba fi­nally ready to put down some roots?

“It’s a good ques­tion,” he adds. “The truth is, we don’t know yet. We’re just buy­ing a house in Leeds now, so it looks like I’ll be based here for a while. But we have a place in Paris as well.

“It re­ally de­pends on the kids – how they make friends, how well they are do­ing at school. We en­joy our time here so, yeah, we’ll prob­a­bly de­cide to stay.

“I’ve en­joyed ev­ery­where I’ve been and made a lot of friends. See­ing these amaz­ing places, bring­ing the kids to dif­fer­ent coun­tries and ex­pos­ing them to other cul­tures. I wouldn’t change any of it.

“But I have to say that the UK is the place where I’ve been treated best. Peo­ple talk about xeno­pho­bia and these things, but to me the English peo­ple have al­ways been very friendly and wel­com­ing.

“I also like the spirit of the game here; hard but fair, with re­spect for ev­ery player. There’s no bet­ter place to play football.”

And if any­one should know, then it is Bamba.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

TIME FOR CHANGE: Adam Pear­son has made a big im­pact as Leeds Utd CEO MAIN MAN: Sven-Go­ran Eriks­son gave Sol Bamba a chance for the Ivory Coast

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