May 19 2013 Latest news:
By Stuart Watson
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
HE was described as a ‘man-mountain’ when he signed with a ‘Superman’ reputation from a former club.
On the face of it, Ibrahima Sonko was just what Ipswich Town needed after a dismal start to the season.
Humbled by Championship new boys Southampton and Peterborough, Town boss Paul Jewell was faced with a shell-shocked, inexperienced defence and knew something had to change.
Enter a 31-year-old centre-back who had won promotion to the Premier League with Reading and had been capped by Senegal on five occasions.
So far so good with Sonko also apparently possessing the kind of madcap personality that supporters often warm to – his website showcasing him, and his physique, in various model poses was further evidence of that.
The softly-spoken defender said: “The manager asked me to come on trial and I instantly liked the place and the people.
“I was very pleased to sign, even though since we have had lots of ups and downs. It has been an interesting season.”
Interesting is certainly one word. While Ipswich have enjoyed and endured good and bad times respectively, the club’s topsy-turvy nature has been mirrored by Sonko the individual.
Hailed by fans originally as a lucky talisman, the former Hull and Portsmouth man’s form dipped in tune with the rest of the team.
Where once his no-nonsense style was savoured, cracks started to emerge in Sonko’s game and costly mistakes followed.
The most high-profile of them all came at Leeds in January when he gifted a pass to Robert Snodgrass to score.
By February, Jewell had seen enough and opted to go with two left-footers, Tommy Smith and Damien Delaney. Sonko’s season – and Town career – was all but over.
He said: “I am of course disappointed to be released but things didn’t always go well. I had some good games but also some bad ones.
“Unfortunately, there was a time when we couldn’t win any games and we were losing such silly goals.
“The injuries didn’t help me, in fact it cut my season in half.
“I could have played more games but I had a few hamstring problems, mainly because I didn’t have a proper pre-season, and then I hurt my rib at home to Middlesbrough because of the bad pitch.”
Sonko remains confident he can still cut it in the Championship and in fact predicts he could play on for another five years.
And he leaves Portman Road with only good things to say: “I had a good time at Ipswich and Paul only had good things to say to me.
“I didn’t know a lot about the club before I came, but the fans have been amazing. They could have booed but they stayed behind the team.
“At the end of the day, I hadn’t played much in the last 18 games so I didn’t expect too much.
“I have been in football so long that I just view it as another step that I have to move on to. In life, things happen for a reason and I am sure I will get something else.”
He may have only featured in less than half a season of games, but Town fans will not forget Ibrahima Sonko in a hurry.
SONKO ON TOMMY SMITH
“He is a great kid. He is only 22 so still has a lot to learn, but he is already so good at so many things. In the last 18 matches, him and Damo (Damien Delaney) have been fantastic so I had no complaints. I think Tommy is only going to get better when the manager puts pressure on him by signing another defender.”
SONKO ON DAMIEN DELANEY
“Damo is a rock. I have played against him before and always thought he was a good player. I remember going straight over to him after we drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace last month and telling him how amazing I thought he played. He needs to stay clear of the kind of injuries he has had this year, but I can see him carrying on for another three or four years.”