TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

We’re just over halfway through Stoke’s first season back in the big time and nearly all of the Potters’ top stars have met with our Insider Mark to dish the dirt on their team-mates.

Skipper Andy Griffin told us he’d love a few drinks with Jesus, Tom Soares jokingly labelled Leon Cort as the worst player he’d ever played alongside, and pretty much everyone rated Steve Simonsen as the dressing room’s worst dressed.

We’re hoping for plenty more revelations from the training ground in the second half of the season and first to step up to the plate is ‘Birdman’ Michael Tonge.

The Leigh-born midfielder started his career with Manchester United’s Academy but made his way over Snake Pass to join Sheffield United aged just 16 after being released by the Premier League giants.

Steve Bruce handed Tonge his first Blades start 10 days after his 18th birthday in a Championship clash with Wimbledon at the end of the 2000/01 season and the following campaign saw him establish himself as a first-team regular.

Tonge’s stock rose even higher in the 2002/03 season as he helped the Blades to both domestic cup semi-finals as well as the Championship play-off final. His biggest highlight arguably came in the first leg of the League Cup semi when he scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Liverpool before the Premier League side won the return 2-0.

The Reds were even linked with a move to take Tonge to Anfield that summer and, although a move never materialised, it was the first of much speculation linking the youngster with a top move.

He stayed faithful to United, though, and eventually reached the Premier League with them in 2006 after playing a key role in their promotion campaign.

Tonge penned a new contract at Bramall Lane that summer and his decision appeared justified as he began to shine in a side that looked destinated to stay up that season.

The Blades were eventually relegated on the final day but Tonge had been one of their star performers and it came as no surprise to again see him linked with a move away from Sheffield.

However, he again remainded with the club and was a virtual ever-present in last season’s Championship campaign. He started to show some of his best form following the arrival of Kevin Blackwell and the move into central midfield, and carried on impressing at the start of this season.

That inevitably led to more interest from the Premier League, though, and Tonge eventually ended a nine-year association with Sheffield United to join Stoke in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

The 25-year-old has made a series of impressive substitute appearances for the Potters but just one start so far in a 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth in October.

He insists he is happy to wait for his chance at the Britannia Stadium, though, as his new side strive to avoid a return to the Championship.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Manchester City.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? The highlight so far would probably be reaching the Premier League with Sheffield United.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? I know a lot of people say it but the biggest influence on my career was definitely my dad because he’s helped me along the way and really pushed me.

As for heroes, as a young guy I used to like Paul Gascoigne and I had the opportunity to play against him a couple of times so I suppose he would class as my first and biggest really.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My ambition for the near future is to establish myself as a Premier League player. Long term I’m obviously 25 now so in the next ten years I want to try and stay and play in the Premier League as long as I possibly can.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? I reckon I’d be a policeman. I’ll probably try and get involved in coaching when I stop playing, though.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? Steven Gerrard’s the best I’ve ever played against but there’s a couple of great players I’ve played with, all midfield players. I’d probably say Stuart McCall.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? I think Gerrard has got to be one of the best in England because he gives so much to the team, and I think he could be one of the best in the world from what I’ve seen recently. Then there’s Ronaldo too because he has been playing really well to be fair.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Hmmm…Danny (Higginbotham) is not neccessarily the worst dresed but he’s certainly got some interesting garments. Sonks (Ibrahima Sonko) has got some interesting ones too but I suppose that suits him.

They’re maybe not the worst dressed, but the most controversial would be Sonks and Donny.

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? There’s a few that I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of but I think big Abdy at the back is a strong player and I wouldn’t like to have a wrestle with him.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? (Andy) Griffin’s the biggest pratical joker here. I can think of a few things he’s done but I just can’t reveal them!

I haven’t actually had any played on me here yet but down at Sheffield when it was your birthday they used to strip you and just leave you outside. The problem is at Sheffield you’d go in the gym and they’d do it and put you out the back but the only way you could get back in was to walk through the reception! I had to get one of my mates to bring me something out and get me back in.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.

TEAMtalk Insider: TEAMtalk Top 10

admin

Stoke take on Fulham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and hoping to keep his place in defence will be Sonko, who made his first league start since October at St James’ Park.

Sonko, born in Senegal, moved to France aged just six months but eventually chose to represent his country of birth at international level.

He started his professional career with Ligue 1 side Saint-Etiene, joining their Academy as a 16-year-old, but never made a first-team appearance before moving to Grenoble in 1999.

Sonko scored twice in 43 appearances for the south-eastern side before winning himself a move to England with Brentford in the summer of 2002, just after the Bees had lost a League One play-final against Stoke.

The 27-year-old soon adapted to English football and his strength and ability in the air quickly established him as a firm fans’ favourite at Griffin Park.

He was a virtual ever-present in his first season with the London side, scoring six goals, before a second impressive campaign for the club earned him a free-transfer move to Reading in 2004 after eight goals in 80 league appearances for Brentford.

Sonko enjoyed similar success with the Royals and soon became known as ‘Superman’ due to his aerial prowess, with ‘Sonko is Superman’ T-Shirts soon made available.

He was a regular in Steve Coppell’s side for the 2004-05 campaign and then again in the 2005-06 season which saw the Berkshire side clinch promotion to the Premier League.

The Royals easily avoided relegation in their first season in the top flight but Sonko’s season was full of controversy. He was sent off in a defeat to Aston Villa, the subject of death threats after his challenge left Carlo Cudicini unconscious, and then ruled out for the rest of the season in January ’07 when he injured his knee ligaments.

Sonko eventually returned to the first team in October of the 2007-08 campaign and he soon re-established himself as a regular in Coppell’s team.

His season ended on a low point, though, after being suspended by Reading for their last two Premier League matches after refusing to play in a reserve game along with Emerse Fae.

The Royals suffered relegation to compound Sonko’s misery but he was back in the team at the start of the Championship season, scoring three times and being sent-off in three appearances, before moving to Stoke for £2million just before the end of the summer transfer window.

He made his debut for the Potters in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton in September but lasted just 22 minutes of his second game at Liverpool the following week before again suffering injury on his comeback against Tottenham in October.

He is now back in the first team after starting the last two games and will hope to make his third consecutive start against Fulham.

Here are his answers to TEAMtalk’s Top 10:

What club did you support growing up? Paris Saint-Germain.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve had a few of them. Scoring against Manchester United with Reading was definitely one and also beating Liverpool at home 3-1.

Who have been the biggest influences on your career and have you got or had any heroes in life? The biggest influence on my career would be my dad because he was always pushing me forward and letting me do what I enjoyed the most. The people I look to the most in football are all the great defenders like Sol Campbell and other players that I admire.

What are your aims with Stoke City and what is your ultimate ambition in football? My aim in football is to play as high as I can and with a big a team as is possible and with Stoke City my aim is to stay in the league for now and then build from there next season.

If you weren’t a footballer then what would you be? If I wasn’t a football then I’d be a lawyer.

Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and who’s the best player you’ve ever played against? The best I’ve ever played with is (Stoke and Senegal team-mate) Abdoulaye Faye and the best I’ve played against is Steven Gerrard.

Who do you rate as the best player in the world today and who’s the best in your position? The best player in the world right now is tough because there’s so many of them but Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka would be the top three. The best centre half? I really like Carvalho at Chelsea.

Who’s the worst dressed player in the Stoke squad? Everyone would say it’s me because I like all the funny colours like pink and other bright colours. They’re stitching me up with my clothes every time I go in the shower so I think it must be me with the worst dress sense. Although I wouldn’t say so!

Who’s the hardest player in the squad? A lot of people say Vincent because he’s strong but he’s an angel, he’s too nice. But there are people like (Carl) Dickinson and they like to go for it all the time, even in training. (Andy) Wilkinson too.

Who’s the biggest prankster at Stoke and what’s the best prank you’ve ever played or had played on you? Danny (Higginbotham) is the biggest joker here, he’s always doing stupid things. He hasn’t stitched me up yet but I can see it coming! He’s always taking the mick out of people, lately it’s been the physio. I’m always on the watchout for him, it’s funny laughing when it’s the other players but the day he gets you he really gets you.

But I played one on Vincent two weeks ago. After dinner in the evening time we often go for a coffee and tea and I had ordered cereal for him. I put so much salt on his milk, though! He tried to even it out with sugar but there wasn’t enough sugar to cover the salt. Me and Vincent met when we were at football school when we were younger, he’s my best friend in football.