It is 14 years ago today that Sammy Bangoura played his final game for Stoke City, the end of a 13-month chapter for one of the club’s most infuriating players.
He would stay for a while longer yet – and was actually still on the books at the start of the promotion season – but he would never again be seen in Stoke colours.
Where to start with this potentially prolific but reliably unreliable striker?
He was signed by Johan Boskamp from Standard Liege for a club record £900,000 in August 2005, with a decent track record there and at Belgian first division rivals Lokeren.
And he was handed his first appearance in October – almost two months after being granted a work permit – with a 20-minute cameo at Derby County, losing 2-1.
He would find his stride in the Championship soon enough. By the end of December he had scored eight times in his 14 games.
Then he went to play for Guinea in the African Cup of Nations.
He was technically available again in time to take on Preston on February 4, but he had still not turned up by February 9, probably the last time that he was mentioned in a positive light during his time at the club.
Then aged 23, the Sentinel revealed he had been subject of a £2.75m bid from Russia – which had been turned down by Stoke chairman Gunnar Gislason.
Manager Boskamp was pleased about that … so long as he could track down his star man.
“It is three times more than we paid for him a few months ago but the main thing is we want to keep him,” he said.
“I drove past his house on Tuesday night and the lights were on, so I don’t understand (why he hasn’t appeared at training).
“He’s got to go back to his country to see the president after the tournament and they take his passport off him, so he has to do that. But he should be back by now.”
Bangoura didn’t show up in time for Stoke’s clash with Cardiff on February 11, which they lost 3-0.
“He knows he should have been here last Tuesday,” said Boskamp. “If I was a player, not a manager, I would kick him in his b—-s. I’ve no respect for him.”
The forward finally appeared nine days after his country had been knocked out of the African Nations, offering an apology but only a vague explanation to his teammates.
The boss said: “He said sorry, but I’m still so angry as this is unacceptable.
“He says he has problems in this country with his family, but he should still have had the dignity to call the people he works for.
“For now, the best way he way can repay me and the players is to score goals. Everybody knows he is a key player for us.”
Bangoura’s two agents visited the Britannia Stadium, discovering he was to be fined two weeks’ wages for his no show.
Defender Clint Hill would have preferred to have been repaid in goals. Stoke had not scored in the league since Bangoura’s final game before jetting off on January 2.
He said: “I can’t believe Sammy. He’s supposed to be a professional footballer and he owes us a big one. We need his goals. He’s got to repay the faith we’ve shown in him.”
Stoke would not manage to find the net in the league again until February 25 and Bangoura would only score one more time in a further 15 outings in a Stoke shirt, in a 4-1 win at Ipswich in the dying embers of Boskamp’s time in charge.
He finally left for Boavista for £270,000 in the summer of 2007 … still owing former friend and strike partner Mama Sidibe £2,000 into the bargain.
The Bangoura affair
Aug 30, 2005: Work permit granted by Home Office hearing.
Sept 11: Kicked out of England on attempted entry because of visa problems.
Sept 15: Finally arrives at the Britannia Stadium.
Sept 18: Arrested and detained in police cell overnight over alleged attempt to assist illegal immigrant through East Midlands Airport.
Sept 24: Police drop investigation into alleged immigration offence.
Oct 15: Makes debut in 20-minute sub appearance in 2-1 defeat at Derby.
Oct 18: Scores first goal after 40 minutes of full debut in 2-1 home win against Crewe.
Dec 9: Scores eighth goal in nine appearances in 3-2 home win against Leicester.
Jan 4, 2006: Departs England to prepare for African Nations’ Cup with Guinea.
Feb 9: His agent claims there is a £2.75m bid from un-named Russian club
Feb 12: Returns to Stoke – nine days after Guinea’s elimination from Nations’ Cup.
Apr 8: Scores in 4-1 win at Ipswich, his only goal in 11 appearances since Nations’ Cup.
Aug 4: Returns 37 days late from summer break, claiming immigration problems with four-month-old daughter.
Sep 9: Goes AWOL and misses trip to Barnsley.
Sep 16: Lasts just 44 minutes of first appearance under Tony Pulis in 1-0 home defeat to Burnley.
Nov 18: Last Stoke appearance as a substitute in a 2-1 win at Hull.
Jan 11, 2007: Joins FC Brussels on loan until the end of the season.
July 26: Boavista revealed to be interested.
Aug 14: Sold to Boavista for initial £270,000 and branded “a disgrace” by Peter Coates.
Aug 18: Mama Sidibe reveals he is owed £2,000 by Bangoura.