Recently viewing a brief highlights clip of Peter Beardsley, only served to remind me and reinforce why I believe he is the greatest footballer ever to play for Newcastle United.

I’m fully aware we’ve had some fantastic players throughout the years but based on pure footballing ability, Peter Beardsley, in my eyes, tops the lot.

When I look at footballers and judge their ability, I try to relate it to the simple term ‘Foot…ball’. By this, I mean what a player can actually do with/to a football with his feet.

For example we have had some excellent players who have been strong in the tackle or able to retain possession accurately such as David Batty, David McCreery and Lee Clark. We have also had some amazing wingers such as David Ginola and Chris Waddle who were able to beat a man with ease and struck fear into opposing players when running with the ball at their feet. Then there’s the goalscoring exploits of Milburn, McDonald and Shearer, all of who put the ball in the net with regular ease, the hardest thing in football right?

There are probably many more who could be put up there with our best players; Gazza, Tino etc etc. However, during his two stints at our club Peter Beardsley encapsulated what it means to be a ‘Great’ footballer.

He had all the staples of a good player able to hold his own in the professional game. Work ethic, desire, confidence and enthusiasm he had in abundance but characteristics that are seldom displayed in modern day footballers. Add to this his flair, vision and creativity, that bit of magic if you like, that set him apart.

A few years ago I attended a talk-in with John Beresford who told a story about his first few training sessions and matches for the club.

The story goes that initially he felt Peter Beardsley was not as good as he was led to believe and that Beardsley kept passing the ball out of play or misdirecting passes – past it perhaps?

However, Beresford went on to add that it didn’t take him too long to realise that these weren’t Beardsley’s failings but actually his own and that Beardsley was merely seeing things, a picture if you like, that Beresford had not and that ultimately it was Beresford who was in fact out of position, or had not made the run/s he should have done, such was the genius of Beardsley.

He even had his own signature tricks; the Beardsley shimmy/jink that had him orchestrating whole defences to the tune of his dancing feet in order to create or score goals. Plus that sliding drag back tackle, which he best displayed against Brighton in the promotion season when he chipped the giant that was Joe Corrigan, the trick (drag back tackle) then seen on a world stage in the World Cup finals back in 1986.

‘Peter The Great’ had it all, his twinkle toes, fleet of foot, vision, creativity and end product were second to none. Some of the goals he scored were out of this world and some of his performances, more often than not, world class.

I’d hazard a guess that if ever speaking to fans of Liverpool and Everton that they’d hold him in similar regard. They certainly couldn’t have a bad word to say about him, he was loved as a player wherever he was playing, a true professional who served both club and country to the best of his ability and wholeheartedly at all times. He knew what a privilege it was to be doing what he loved as a job and never took it for granted.

Think about how many goals the likes of Gary Lineker and Andy Cole, for example, scored off the back of Beardsley’s excellence, precision and unselfishness.

Picking his best ever goal is impossible, there are too many. The goal from the wing against Norwich which beat the goalkeeper at the near post, a similar one for England at Wembley, that drag back and chip as previously mentioned and the numerous occasions he danced through a defence before finding the back of the net.

Yes ‘Peter The Great’………..The Greatest?

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