WHEN NOTTINGHAM Forest announced they had signed goalkeeper Brice Samba from Caen, it would be fair to say that a good percentage were dubious.
After all, they already had four senior ‘keepers on the books and the number one shirt had been all but given to Arto Muric.
Fast forward a few months into the season and it is hard to recall a goalkeeper having as much as an impact as Samba.
The muscle bound stopper has been sensational and become a cult hero at The City Ground.
He understands the club and the fans, and his own ambition is obvious to anyone that watches him. He is good with his feet, for such a colossus.
He had kept eight Championship clean sheets and had started every game since his debut, establishing himself as the firm number one under coach Sabri Lamouchi.
Samba’s influence on the team was immediately apparent. Forest went unbeaten in 11 of his 13 games keeping six clean sheets along the way, and it’s that form that has cemented him as a key player in Forest’s promotion push.
Born in Linzono, Congo, Samba has quickly become one of the more
popular characters in the Forest squad, this was cemented when he gave away
five tickets and his jersey to a fan that had got his name tattooed on his
body, following the 3-0 cup win at Derby.
The fan had tweeted a proposition involving a clean sheet, which Brice
achieved and hilariously took him up on.
There is a flag that floats around the City Ground which depicts Samba, 25, doing his trademark pre- match prayer, and he loves the reception he has got since coming to the city.
“The supporters are amazing here, there’s a lot of players which have a good relationship with them.
“We are good friends. After training we go for food. It’s good for the
team. It’s very important for the objective this season that we’re all
Forest are in the shake-up for a play-off place and are looking in good shape for promotion than any time in recent seasons.
With Samba in goal they easily have one of the best championship ‘keepers around and look like they’ve made the best signing from Caen, since a certain N’Golo Kante moved to Leicester City a few years ago.
Brice’s good form is being aided by the presence of Forest midfield dynamo Samba Sow who was signed from Dynamo Moscow in the summer and has been another great coup for the Reds this season.
The 30-year-old has suffered from injury but Forest fans are itching to see his return, citing the stability and experience he brings to the team.
The Mali international has been capped 36 times by his country and is a no-nonsense defensive midfielder and arrived for less than a million pounds in the summer.
The City Ground outfit have lots of options in the middle of the park but the drive and power Sow brings, gives them another dynamic.
The fate of Forest’s season, relies heavily on the continued performances of the two Sambas, who have been shining lights so far this campaign.