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Ibrahima Sonko




Date of birth






Born in Senegal, Sonko began his career in France with Saint-Etienne and Grenoble before arriving in England with Brentford.

He made 80 appearances for the Bees across two seasons, and for a time he must have been wearing the wrong boots, scoring five goals in six games from the defensive line.

In 2004, Steve Coppell lured him to Madejski Stadium and he rapidly established himself alongside Ivar Ingimarsson in the Royals' back four.

Off the pitch, the softly-spoken gentle giant would always greet you with a beaming smile. On the pitch, the fearless man mountain of a defence had muscles most men didn’t realise they could grow…and he wasn’t afraid to use them in tackle after tackle against his opposite number.

In 2005/06, Sonko earned the nickname ‘Superman’ after a series of  heroic performances at the heart of a defence which helped catapult Reading into the top flight for the first time in its history – the fan favourite started in every game of that incredible league season, scoring an 87th minute winner here against Crystal Palace that kick-started a record-breaking run.

The towering defender was pulling up Premier League trees until a cruciate knee injury cut his campaign short and, although he remained something of a regular in Coppell’s side the following year, he signed off his Reading career with two goals against Plymouth in his final Madejski Stadium appearance before a move back into the top tier with Stoke City.

He has failed to really find his feet at Hull, Portsmouth and Ipswich since, and he spent last season in Turkey with Akhisar Belediyespor. But he’ll always be Superman to us.