BOTTLE TO AT LEEDS
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.”
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.
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