Norwich City defensive rock Sebastien Bassong hoping to complete rare promotion double
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Frozen out at the start of the season, Sebastien Bassong has emerged as Norwich City's rock at the back. David Freezer looks at how the defender turned his career around at Carrow Road
P28 W13 D7 L8 A36 (average 1.29 conceded per game)
P20 W13 D5 L2 A15 (av 0.75 per game)
P35 W22 D6 L7 A39 (av 1.11 per game)
P11 W5 D2 L4 A10 (av 0.91 per game)
One player unlikely to forget this season in a hurry is Norwich City centre-back Sebastien Bassong.
Having played in the World Cup for Cameroon, the Champions League with Tottenham Hotspur and the Premier League with City, Wolves and Newcastle, the big defender is clearly a man with huge experience.
Yet even he cannot have expected to potentially be able to savour two promotions in one season – something he is now just one match away from achieving.
Bassong started this season out of favour under manager Neil Adams, having been overlooked during City’s final attempts to avoid relegation from the Premier League last year.
With the Canaries then making a strong start to life in the Championship, the Paris-born defender was allowed to join Watford on loan for three months.
At the time, City were top of the table, but level on points with the third-placed Hornets.
When Bassong’s loan finished the Hertfordshire side were sixth, one place and one point better off than Adams’ side.
However, with Alex Neil replacing Adams in January, the 28-year-old was back in the first-team fold at Carrow Road by the end of the month. Without him, the Canaries conceded an average of 1.29 goals per game as they won 13 of their opening 28 matches.
Since his return, that average has dropped to 0.75 per game as City forced themselves back into the race for promotion, conceding only 15 goals in their last 20 games.
Arch-rivals Ipswich have been disposed of in the play-off semi-finals along the way and Neil is preparing his team to battle Middlesbrough in the final at Wembley on Monday.
Bassong’s renaissance was capped by a man-of-the-match display in Saturday’s second leg against the Blues, dominating proceedings by dealing with a huge workload in a calm and determined manner.
The strapping centre-back won 10 aerial challenges over the course of the match – two more than the rest of the defenders on the pitch achieved as a combined total.
It was a display which confirmed Bassong was back to his best for City.
With Watford having already grabbed automatic promotion to the Premier League alongside Bournemouth, he is now just one more big performance from potentially being able to enjoy the promotions of both the clubs he has played for this season.
Boro inflicted the worst defeat of the season on the Canaries when they triumphed 4-0 at the Riverside in November. Bassong missed that match, but was back to experience the frustrating 1-0 loss to the Teessiders last month.
If City are to avenge those defeats, Bassong will be crucial after proving his commitment to the cause. He started the season nowhere near the club’s first team – but finishes it as one of the first names on the team-sheet.