Graham Westley snapped up defender Bira Dembele on a free transfer in February 2014, with Boro’ struggling at the foot of the League One table. The signing of the former French U21 international gave us that additional defensive option as we sought to keep the goals out. The move to England and Graham Westley’s Stevenage in 2014 marked the first time he had stepped outside of France with his career, hoping that he could not only help Boro’ to remain in League One but also establish himself as a first team regular for arguably the first time as a professional.
With time called on Westley’s third stint in summer 2015, it was still very surprising to hear that Dembele would be following him out of the Lamex after being let go by the club. After a strong second half to the 2014-5 season, it had seemed as if the Frenchman would be a mainstay of the Boro’ defence but it proved not to be. Even more surprising was the fact he wound up playing for Barnet next. But you can’t have everything.
Bira Dembele: Before Boro’
Dembele started his career at French-side UJA Alfortville in 2004, before switching to Stade Rennes in 2005. He turned pro at the Ligue 1 club in 2007 and stayed there for four years. He saw little first team action while he was there and only played a handful of games. But he did get some first team experience thanks to a loan spell with US Boulogne, before leaving Stade Rennes for Sedan in 2011.
Again, first team chances were at a premium for the defender; heading out on loan once again in 2012 to Red Star 93 of the third tier – the Championnat National.