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Five of Albion's best loan signings

Albion have made some inspired loan signings over the years and, to mark the retirement of Sebastian Pocognoli, we look back on five of the best.

By Nick Szczepanik • 23 April 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Sebastien Pocognoli called time on his playing career on Thursday.

Such is the quality of players we could have picked from that those left out include Glenn Murray, Matthew Upson, Stephen Ward, Lloyd Owusu and Paul Dickov.

BOBBY ZAMORA (Bristol Rovers)  Feb 2000-May 2000 (6 games, 6 goals)

Rarely can a player have made such an impact in such a short spell. The club needed to replace Lorenzo Pinamonte, whose own loan from Bristol City had ended when Brentford outbid Albion for his permanent signing. So manager Micky Adams turned to a lanky teenager who was struggling to get a game at Bristol Rovers and the rest is Albion history. Bobby Z impressed team-mates and fans alike, scoring on his debut against Plymouth and notching a hat-trick in a 7-1 win away to Chester. Six goals in six games should have earned him a chance back in Bristol, but with Jason Roberts, Nathan Ellington and Jamie Cureton ahead of him, that chance never came, and Rovers boss Ian Holloway – who had considered playing him in midfield – was persuaded to let the 19-year-old return to Withdean for £100,000 and a 30 percent sell-on clause. Bobby, as we all know, went on to notch another 84 goals in two spells as a Seagull and become one of the most popular Albion players of all time.

WAYNE BRIDGE (Manchester City) July 2012-May 2013 (42 games, 3 goals).

By Paul Hazlewood
Wayne Bridge joined Albion on loan from Manchester City.

It seems incredible now, but some observers thought that Bridge was finished after a couple of televised errors during a previous spell on loan from Manchester City to West Ham. There were even a few doubters among the Albion fanbase when Gus Poyet secured the former England defender on a season-long deal that saw parent club City pay a large chunk of his wages. Those doubts soon evaporated when the Amex faithful were treated to a series of masterclasses in full-back play as Bridge tore up and down the left flank. He was not on a winning Albion side until his fourth game, when he scored in a 5-1 demolition of Barnsley, but after that he was a key player in the club's run to the play-off semi-finals. A free agent at the end of the season, he joined Reading but his career was soon ended by injury.

JESSE LINGARD (Man Utd) Feb 2014 – May 2014 (17 games, 4 goals).

Lingard made an instant impression at Championship level , scoring four goals on his debut in the division – but that was during a loan at Birmingham, and he struggled to repeat his early promise at St Andrews. But his second loan of the 2013-14 season proved more successful, as the popular Mancunian helped Oscar Garcia's Albion into the play-offs in a variety of attacking roles. The highlights included a goal in a 4-1 win at champions-elect Leicester, and another to open the scoring in the play-off semi-final first leg at home to Derby. The fact that he later scored the winning goal for United in an FA Cup final against Crystal Palace did nothing to harm his reputation with Albion fans, nor did his tweeted welcome to the Premier League on the day the club won promotion in 2017 – ‘I had a great time at your club and see you next season!’

STEVE SIDWELL (Arsenal)  November 2002 – Jan 2003 (12 games, 5 goals)

Manager Steve Coppell snapped up the all-action midfield player from the Gunners' Youth Cup winning squad in November 2002 as he plotted to keep Albion in the second tier, and 'Siddy' was an instant hit. The highlight of his spell was a late brace that secured an unlikely point in a 2-2 draw at home to Burnley. Unfortunately Reading had noticed his displays and bought him from his parent club in January 2003. Fortunately, not only had he made an excellent impression on the club, but the Albion had also made an impact on him. He had enjoyed playing at Withdean and even looks back fondly at washing his own kit after training on the muddy University of Sussex pitches – so much so that he jumped at the chance to return to help the club’s promotion push in 2016, scoring a memorable 40-yarder at Bristol City and later joining the club's coaching staff.

SEBASTIAN POCOGNOLI (WBA) August 2016 – May 2017 (21 games, 1 goal)

Pocognoli earned himself a permanent place in Albion folklore with one swing of his left foot, but there was more to the Belgian left back with the Italian name than THAT goal. A steady performer in what had been a problem position for the club over many years, he also supplied the teasing, curling cross that enabled Anthony Knockaert to score the late winner for 10-man Albion in a vital 2-1 home victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Fast forward to Friday April 7th, 2017 and a free kick with Albion looking to add to a 1-0 lead away to QPR in a key late-season game with promotion close enough to touch. It seemed tailor-made for Knockaert, but Pocognoli recalled later, “I had a good feeling. I told Anthony 'Let me shoot!’” Knockaert stepped aside, Pocognoli shot and the ball arced over the defensive wall, off the crossbar and into club legend.

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