One to Watch - Christopher Samba
Name: Christopher Samba
Date of Birth: 28/3/1984
Former Clubs: Sedan, Hertha Berlin
League Appearances (Goals): 173 (14)
International Appearances (Goals): 20 (0)
Stat of the Day: Christopher Samba attempted more shots than any other Blackburn Rovers player in the 2010/11 Premier League season
Quite simply - what an absolute beast. Standing at 6ft 4in, Christopher Samba is the rock that holds the Blackburn defence together and having relentlessly been linked with a move away from Ewood Park over the summer, the Congolese international certainly has his admirers. The 27-year-old is a towering presence in both boxes and his love for a crunching tackle and a match-winning block has endeared him to the hearts of the Blackburn faithful.
I`ve always maintained that a footballer that can be employed as both a central defender and a striker shouldn`t be playing football (Gary Doherty and Dion Dublin as examples), but Samba defies my sound logic. His no-nonsense defending epitomises the mentality of English football, hence his substantial support throughout the English game. His penalty-box menace is something to be feared, and with QPR struggling for goals of late they won`t find it any easier coming up against the intimidating presence of the defender.
Samba was born in Créteil, a suburb in the south-east of Paris, and began his initial football career at French club CS Sedan. He mainly appeared for the reserve side but managed three appearances for the first team. At 19 Sedan decided not to extend Samba`s stay at the club, especially as the defender suffered a broken fibula. Samba spent the following six months recovering and training on his own, searching and failing to secure a contract at another club.
Just as he was considering quitting the game altogether, Samba learned that the Republic of Congo were organising training camps in France for children who were eligible to play for the national side. It was this lifeline that secured Samba appearances for Congo, and subsequently his time at German side Hertha Berlin. He spent three years in Germany, making twenty appearances for the first team, before signing for Blackburn in 2007 for £300 000 after a week`s trial.
He made his debut on 3 February against Sheffield United and has never looked back. Since then Rovers have twice extended his contract, the latest to 2015, and there are those at the club who feel fortunate to have got through the summer without an offer from a bigger club for the 27-year-old. Samba has made 150 league appearances for the club, scored a total of 14 goals, played as a striker, been appointed captain and stripped of the same duty in the same season and has been an overall presence at Ewood Park during his four and half year stay.