Bamba with Ivory Coast in 2012
|Full name||Souleymane Bamba|
|Date of birth||13 January 1985|
|Place of birth||Ivry-sur-Seine, France|
|Height||1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|2015||→ Leeds United (loan)||19||(1)|
|2003–2005||Ivory Coast U20|
|2008||Ivory Coast U23||2||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13:39, 18 August 2018 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 June 2014
Bamba started his career in his native France with Paris Saint-Germain, but failed to establish himself in their first team and moved to Scotland to join Dunfermline Athletic in 2006. Two years later he was transferred to Hibernian, before joining Leicester City in January 2011. Bamba moved to Turkish club Trabzonspor in 2012.
Bamba began his career with Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the age of 14. He had been spotted by club scouts playing street football in Paris but had initially turned the club down as his mother hoped for him to become a doctor. Originally playing as a defensive midfielder, he converted to playing as a central defender at the age of 15 after impressing there as cover for a teammate who had missed a match due to being stuck in traffic.
Despite impressing for PSG's youth and B teams, he only appeared in two first team games, in his final year at the club. Dissatisfied with his lack of appearances, Bamba asked to be sent out on loan to gain experience but was denied by manager, Vahid Halilhodžić, causing Bamba to reject PSG's offer of a new contract and subsequently leave the club. He later claimed that PSG had damaged potential transfers to other French sides after he left the club, stating "I was disappointed because my club said, 'He's a good player but he's a tough guy – he doesn't listen and he can get the team into trouble."
After an initial trial period, Bamba signed for Scottish Premier League side Dunfermline Athletic in July 2006. Jim Leishman later revealed that he had been intending to bring over another player from France on trial, but this deal fell through and Bamba's agent sent him instead. Leishman was immediately impressed by Bamba's physique and his performance as a trialist against John Hartson. During his short trial, Bamba also came on as a substitute in a friendly match against La Liga side Osasuna; he impressed by making several tackles and blocks.
Bamba was part of the squad that reached the 2007 Scottish Cup Final and played in the final against Glasgow Celtic in a 1–0 loss after a goal from Jean-Joël Perrier-Doumbé, but Dunfermline Athletic were also relegated from the Scottish Premier League. Bamba signed a two-year contract extension at the start of the 2007–08 season, but his performances were less impressive in the First Division.
Bamba was allowed to go on trial with Championship side Watford in July 2008, appearing in a friendly for them against Boreham Wood. Soon afterwards, manager Jim McIntyre said he expected a fee to be agreed between Dunfermline and Watford, which would allow Bamba to move to the Championship side. Although the deal was thought to be almost complete, Watford pulled out for unknown reasons. A few weeks later, Dunfermline accepted offers of £50,000 from Scottish Premier League sides Hibernian and Motherwell.
Bamba chose to move to Hibernian, signing a three-year contract with the club. He was sent off on his debut for a second bookable offence against Dundee United, but Bamba subsequently established himself in the Hibs first team. Despite being a natural centre back, manager Mixu Paatelainen praised Bamba's contribution as a defensive midfielder in a 2–0 win against Celtic in December 2008. Paatelainen commented further that he believed Bamba had improved as a player since his spell at Dunfermline, due to not going to ground when making a challenge. Bamba quickly became a popular player with the Hibs support due to his tough and committed tackling in this new role.
New manager John Hughes moved Bamba back to a central defensive role after the sale of Rob Jones in the 2009 close season. In his second match in this position, Bamba scored his first ever professional goal in a 3–1 win against Falkirk on 22 August. Coincidentally, he scored his second goal for the club at the same ground against the same team and in another 3–1 win, on 27 March. The Edinburgh Evening News reported on 8 May 2010 that Bamba's performances had "not gone unnoticed", with scouts from Fulham and Rennes due to watch Bamba. Sven-Göran Eriksson, the new manager of the Ivorian national team, was also due to watch Bamba ahead of the 2010 World Cup, but was not spotted at the last game played by Hibs in the 2009–10 season.
Bamba angered manager John Hughes when he failed to report for a pre-season tour of the Netherlands in July 2010. Bamba responded to this criticism by claiming that he needed a full three weeks off after returning from the World Cup, but Hughes dropped Bamba from the first team squad when he eventually returned to Edinburgh. Bamba was recalled for the second leg of a UEFA Europa League tie with NK Maribor at Easter Road, but Hibs lost 3–2 on the night and 6–2 on aggregate.
With Bamba's contract with Hibs due to expire at the end of the 2010–11 season, the club agreed a fee with Football League Championship club Leicester City for his transfer. The deal was confirmed on 2 January 2011, with Bamba joining for an undisclosed fee. He was reunited at Leicester with his former Ivory Coast manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson. Bamba made his debut and scored a goal with his first touch of the ball in a 2–2 FA Cup draw against Manchester City on 9 January. He scored his first two league goals in a 4–2 win over Millwall on 22 January.
After speculation linking him with several Premier League side's including Blackburn Rovers and French giants Marseille during the 2011 Summer Transfer Window, Bamba signed a new contract with Leicester in September 2011. Eriksson also famously compared Bamba's style of play to that of German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
In his 17-months at the club, in total he played 55 games for the club in all competitions, scoring four goals.
Bamba signed for Turkish club Trabzonspor in June 2012. Trabzonspor paid a £750,000 transfer fee to Leicester City for the move. He made his professional debut for Trabzonspor on 26 August 2012 playing the full 90 minutes, in a 2–0 victory at home to Elazigspor. He made 18 appearances during his first season at the club, however he missed a proportion of fixtures when he was away with Ivory Coast as he helped them reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final, where they finished as runner up to Zambia.
During the 2013–14 season Bamba made 15 appearances for Trabzonspor in the first half of the season, including being a regular starter in their Europa League campaign. However, on the 22nd January 2014, Bamba picked up an ankle injury which ruled him out for the majority of the latter part of the season. Bamba failed to play for Tranzonspor again after suffering the injury, however he recovered in time to play for Ivory Coast at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
On 26 August 2014, after having been released by Trabzonspor, Bamba agreed a three-year deal with Serie A club Palermo. He made his Palermo debut on 24 September 2014, when he started the match for Palermo in a 3–3 draw against Napoli. However, he made no further appearances for the club.
On 23 January 2015, Bamba was loaned to Leeds United for the remainder of the season, with the possibility of making the transfer permanent at a later date. He made his debut for Leeds in a 2–1 win over Huddersfield Town on 31 January 2015. Less than a month after joining the side, on 10 February 2015, Bamba was named captain for a game against Reading due to an injury to Liam Cooper. He was captain again as Leeds beat the then league leaders Middlesbrough 1–0 on 21 February, with Bamba putting in an impressive performance.
On 18 March 2015, Bamba scored his first goal for Leeds United against Fulham in a 3–0 away victory. Bamba was a hugely impressive performer during his time at Leeds, and on 3 May 2015 in an end of season interview, Bamba revealed he wanted to join Leeds United on a permanent basis, he was also outspoken towards the club's Owner advising "the person in charge has to do better for the sake of the club and the supporters".
On 2 June 2015, it was revealed that Leeds had entered into talks with Bamba's club Palermo, to sign the player on a permanent deal.
On 24 June 2015, Bamba signed for Leeds United on a permanent transfer for an undisclosed fee from Serie A side Palermo, Bamba signed a two-year deal at the club with the option of a third year.  New Leeds United head coach Uwe Rösler described Bamba as "a match-winner in both boxes", and said that "he brings fantastic qualities with him" and "he can be a leader by himself for the young team he is working with". On 31 July 2015, Bamba was given the number 3 shirt for the upcoming 2015–16 season.
On 4 July 2015, Bamba was appointed captain of Leeds United by head coach Uwe Rösler, taking over from previous captain Liam Cooper. On 8 August 2015, Bamba received the man of the match award in a 1–1 draw against Burnley in the league on the opening day of the season. Bamba scored for Leeds against Derby County in a 2–2 draw on 29 December 2015, Bamba also scored a goal against Blackburn Rovers in a 2–1 win on 12 March 2016.
On 19 April 2016, Bamba scored a stunning long range volley against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 2–1 win. Bamba followed that up with a consolation goal on 30 April in a 2–1 defeat against Charlton Athletic.
On 8 May 2016, At the end of the 2015–16 season in an interview with Yorkshire Evening Post, Bamba was again critical of the Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, and called on Cellino to put 'promises to action', he also revealed the players would be unaware if current Head Coach Steve Evans would be retained for the following 2016–17 season, and that also the players were unaware of when to return for pre season training. He revealed that the players were told they would find out 'by text' when Massimo Cellino had made a decision.
During the 2016 pre season, new head coach Garry Monk announced Bamba would remain as Leeds Captain for the 2016–17 season. On 7 August, Bamba scored an own goal against Queens Park Rangers in a 3–0 defeat in the opening match of the season and was subsequently dropped from the side, falling behind Kyle Bartley, Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson in the pecking order. On 1 September 2016, it was revealed that Bamba, despite being Leeds' captain, had been released by the club by mutual consent following the close of the transfer window the previous day. With Bamba leaving the club, on 9 September 2016, Liam Bridcutt was announced as the new Leeds captain to replace Bamba.
Bamba joined Neil Warnock at Cardiff City in October 2016, signing a two-year contract. Warnock had long been keen on signing Bamba at previous clubs and had contacted him a month before the move, when both were without a club, and urged him to wait for Warnock's appointment at a new club to join him there. He made his debut for the club in a Severnside derby match against Bristol City on 14 October, scoring the winning goal as the Bluebirds won 2–1. His performances for Cardiff led manager Warnock to declare that "I wouldn't want anyone else. I don't think there's anyone better." Bamba received his first red card in seven years against Ipswich Town, in December, following a scuffle with forward, David McGoldrick, which led to a 3 match ban due to his reaction. After receiving the red card, Bamba clashed with the fourth official before being physically restrained by Warnock and leaving the pitch. In April, Bamba suffered a groin injury against Barnsley, which ended his season prematurely.
Bamba returned to the squad at the beginning of the 2017–18 season, helping Cardiff win their three opening games of the season, for the first time in their history. He signed a new three-year contract on 25 August 2017, following it up by heading in the winner against Queens Park Rangers, the next day. He went on to help the club win promotion to the Premier League after finishing the season in second place, being ever present in the league after appearing in all 46 league matches and being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.
Although he was born in France, Bamba represents his parents' homeland of Ivory Coast. He featured in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, the 2005 African Youth Championship and the 2008 Toulon Tournament. Bamba was part of the Ivory Coast squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 2008 Olympic Games.
Bamba won his first cap at full international level for Ivory Coast in a 2008 friendly match against Israel, and his second cap as a late substitute in a friendly against Turkey. Bamba made his competitive debut in a 5–0 win against Malawi in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, again as a late substitute. This match was played in the aftermath of the Houphouët-Boigny Arena stampede, which killed dozens of Ivorian spectators. Bamba became a regular in the national team as they qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Bamba scored his first goal for the team in a friendly against Rwanda, as part of the squad's preparation for the 2010 African Cup. He played in all of Ivory Coast's matches at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, but the team suffered a quarter-final defeat by Algeria after extra time. The "uneasy" central defensive partnership between Kolo Touré and Bamba was cited as one of the reasons for their defeat. The tournament had been played in the shadow of the shooting of the Togo team bus, however, with death threats also being made against the Ivory Coast team.
Coach Vahid Halilhodžić, who had worked with Bamba at PSG and given him his first appearances at club and international level, was sacked after the tournament. The new Ivorian coach, Sven-Göran Eriksson, selected Bamba in his provisional 30-man squad for the 2010 World Cup on 11 May. Bamba scored in Eriksson's first match in charge, a 2–2 draw with Paraguay. Bamba was selected in the finals squad of 23, but was dropped from the starting lineup, with midfielder Didier Zokora chosen to partner Kolo Touré in central defence.
Bamba resumed his partnership with Kolo Touré in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Ivory Coast did not concede a goal during the entire tournament, but lost the final against Zambia on a penalty shootout.
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Bamba played in central defence alongside Zokora. Kolo Toure had contracted malaria in the period before the tournament. Bamba was booked in the first match, which Ivory Coast won 2–1 against Japan. Ivory Coast were eliminated at the group stage after suffering 2–1 defeats against both Colombia and Greece.
- As of 18 August 2018.
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