Each time Sol Bamba steps on a pitch as of late, he’s profitable.
Granted, it nonetheless hurts if his Middlesbrough aspect loses a recreation. He’s knowledgeable footballer in spite of everything, and that is his livelihood, his ardour.
However, having overcome non-Hodgkin lymphoma to proceed his profession within the Championship on the age of 36, the straightforward reality he’s out there’s sufficient.
“I am somebody simply transferring ahead on a regular basis and considering forward,” Bamba instructed BBC Tees Sport.
“I do not dwell on the previous. Generally I take into consideration what I’ve finished or doing as in coaching and taking part in video games.
“It is loopy, I am unable to even put it into phrases. A few months in the past, after chemo I keep in mind feeling so low and dangerous I by no means thought I may have come again and performed soccer once more.
“It is simply pure pleasure after I play and I realise how fortunate I’m.”
‘You do not need to hear that at any time’
Earlier than there was pleasure for the Paris-born centre-half, there was the despair of the prognosis in late 2020.
As a footballer, Bamba was nonetheless conditioned even in his twilight years; he had nurtured his physique via 15-years of the skilled recreation, from early days at Paris St-Germain via a myriad of golf equipment together with Hibernian, Leicester, Palermo and Leeds, performed internationally for Ivory Coast, and was nonetheless on the books at Cardiff.
So to be instructed he had a severe sickness was robust to take, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.
“I had a ache for a few weeks beforehand and I went to the physician and so they did the scans and on Christmas Eve that is once they stated I had it,” Bamba continued.
“You do not need to hear that at any time however particularly not on the festive interval. What we determined to do was not inform the household as a result of we wished everybody to have a superb Christmas.
“We saved it to my spouse and me and we did not even inform the children or something.”
Processing information and relaying the message
Whereas Bamba and his spouse Chloe did their greatest to make Christmas “regular” for his or her youngsters, simply taking the information in was one thing that took time to course of.
Medical doctors instructed him it was was not all the way down to something he had finished personally, which helped mentally, however along with his mum based mostly in France and along with his younger kids nonetheless to be instructed, relaying the information was troublesome.
“It was onerous for her [mum] not being right here and that is what she stated,” Bamba continued. “She was crying on the cellphone.
“There was Covid about as nicely so it was very troublesome. For me, the worst one was the children as a result of if you inform the ladies you’ve got received that, for them most cancers is related to demise, so when your youngsters ask you if you are going to die, that was onerous.
“I’ve to say, that was the toughest half for me to cope with. I keep in mind having conversations with the physician and he or she stated: ‘Simply inform them the reality as a result of you possibly can’t deceive youngsters, we’re certain you are going to be okay but when one thing have been to occur you do not need to be mendacity to your youngsters’.”
Taking over the most cancers
The toughest bit as soon as the remedy began was the bodily decline. Bamba went from mixing it with centre forwards within the cut-and-thrust of elite-level soccer, to scarcely leaving his mattress because the medication set to work.
“For 4 days straight, I did not rise up or go to the bathroom, nothing,” he continued. “After 4 days my missus stated it’d been 4 days, I could not imagine it. I used to be simply gone. Drained, I could not get away from bed.
“I did not eat, I misplaced a load of weight. I used to be doing this each few weeks and after the primary one I stated I wasn’t going to go as a result of I do not need to be like that once more.”
The energy of spouse Chloe persuaded Bamba to proceed, and as his physique grew to become extra used to the remedy, every session received simpler.
“Individuals see me and I speak about it comfortably and I smile and that, but it surely was onerous,” he stated. “There is no two methods about it. I am no superhuman, it was troublesome. And it is essential to speak about it.
“In the event you’ve received good assist and when you’re robust mentally then you possibly can overcome it. It was troublesome for me to speak about it as a result of everyone seems to be totally different.
“I can haven’t any drawback with it or beat it simply, if I can use that phrase, whereas different folks may undergo. It doesn’t suggest folks do not struggle and I am combating extra then them. Everyone seems to be totally different and offers with the remedy in another way.”
‘I learn each single message’
Having come out of the opposite aspect to make his footballing return, and having reunited with former Cardiff boss Neil Warnock at Middlesbrough earlier this season, there’s a totally different outlook on life.
Bamba is set to savour each second, be along with his household, take pleasure in experiences.
And, he’s additionally grateful to the assist he acquired from throughout the soccer group in his darkest moments.
“In the beginning, the assist from my team-mates at Cardiff on the time in addition to the entire soccer world actually was enormous,” Bamba added. “I feel folks underestimate simply sending me a message via the publish or social media.
“I do not suppose I am mendacity after I stated I learn each single one in every of them. That gave me the energy and the arrogance to beat this.”
Cardiff, particularly, wore T-shirts with Bamba’s identify and quantity 22 on them at their Championship fixture with Norwich Metropolis final season.
“It was crucial for me to have all of the assist and to see them coaching with these T-shirts. It was enormous as a result of from afar it appeared everybody cared for me and wished to assist me which was a giant plus,” stated Bamba.
“I used to be shocked and overwhelmed. I simply play soccer the most effective I can, I hold myself to myself, I do not ask for any hassle and I received messages from everybody.
“I am shy and all these messages made me really feel dangerous but it surely was a lot appreciated.”
From tackling most cancers to tackling the Championship’s strikers. Each step he takes, Bamba remains to be profitable.
Sol Bamba was speaking to BBC Radio Tees’ Middlesbrough commentator Mark Drury.