Sheffield United talent aiming to emulate former team-mate and rising Huddersfield Town star

Sheffield United’s Iliman Ndiaye says Sorba Thomas is an “inspiration” as he tries to follow the Huddersfield Town player’s rapidly-rising career path.

Both are playing Championship football in Yorkshire after starting their professional careers at Boreham Wood.

Frenchman Ndiaye was picked up by the Blades before he played first-team football for the Conference club, but Thomas had made over 50 starts when he moved to Huddersfield in January, aged 21.

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After an acclimatisation period of seven substitute appearances last season, Thomas has stepped up his game and recognition has followed. He was Championship player of the month for August, and made his Wales debut in the Czech Republic on Friday.

Inspired: Sheffield United's lliman Ndiaye. Picture: Simon Bellis/SportimageInspired: Sheffield United's lliman Ndiaye. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Inspired: Sheffield United's lliman Ndiaye. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Ndiaye, who made an impressive full league debut a month ago, scoring twice in a 6-2 win over Peterborough United, says following winger Thomas’s progress is driving him on.

“I congratulated him when he won his player of the month award,” said the 21-year-old, who has featured in every Blades game bar one since. “He’s an amazing player.

“What he’s done at Boreham Wood and what he’s doing now shows whoever you are or what age, it doesn’t matter. If you work hard, you can get to the top. Everyone should look up to Sorba Thomas right now because he’s a great inspiration.”

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Ndiaye played youth football in Marseilles before following his father to Senegal, then England. After an unsuccessful trial with Southampton he joined Boreham Wood’s academy and signed a first professional contract in late 2017. Nearly two years later he moved to South Yorkshire.

Ndiaye was given his chance as a substitute in under-23 manager Paul Heckingbottom’s first game in caretaker charge of the first team but his progress was held up by a stand-off over a new contract, which ended in September.