When Stoke City spent the best part of £2 million on Ibrahima Sonko in 2008, the Potters were hoping to get a solid defender who could keep them in the Premier League.
It turned out that they would stay in the top flight for a number of years, but Sonko wasn’t one of the big reasons for that.
Having started off his career in France with Grenoble, the Senegalese centre-back switched to Brentford in 2002, then of the third tier of English football, before making the jump into the Championship with Reading.
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He spent some impressive years with the Royals and ended up making 39 Premier League appearances for them in the end, and after scoring three Championship goals in as many games to start the 2008-09 season, Tony Pulis forked out a seven-figure fee for the then 27-year-old.
Sonko would only ever make 14 league appearances for the Potters – just seven of them starts – before having loan spells at both Hull City and Portsmouth and then departed in the summer of 2011 from Staffordshire when his contract expired.
The towering defender did go on to Ipswich Town and then transferred his talents over to Turkey with Akhisar Belediyespor, where he was a regular in the country’s top flight for two seasons but he came back to England in 2015 to play for non-league side Harlow Town.
What’s Sonko up to now though? Well according to Linkedin during his time at Harlow he was also the CEO of Gold Step football academy, based in the capital of his native Senegal in Dakar, but he started a new role, again as a CEO, this past summer at ‘Inner Management’, which seems linked to the academy that he has been a part of for a number of years.
Stoke fans probably don’t have the fondest memories of Sonko but there’s no doubting once upon a time he was a top Championship defender – but the Premier League was perhaps a step too far especially with the Potters.