Newcastle goalkeeper Matz Sels turns 25 years old today.

The Belgian keeper was Rafa Benitez’ first ever signing for Newcastle United.

Experience of playing in the Champions League and in the star studded Belgian squad, Matz Sels was guaranteed the number one shirt by Rafa Benitez to clinch the move.

The Gent goalkeeper getting the shirt despite Karl Darlow’s excellent form at the end of last season in the Premier League.

Nine games into the season and after looking anything but comfortable dealing with the physical demands of  English football and especially balls knocked into the box, he was dropped and replaced by Karl Darlow. Wonder what he was thinking when Darlow made the blunders against Norwich and then Bristol City yesterday..

Never seen again in the Championship, Matz Sels has since been restricted to only the five cup matches, getting part of the blame for the embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Oxford and the lion’s share after gifting Hull an equaliser in the League Cup quarter-final.

Sels’ birthday month then kicked off with even worse news, as the first Saturday fixture of February saw the (now) 25 year old dropped altogether from the matchday squad, as Rob Elliot took his place on the bench against Derby and that has been the case for the following four Championship matches.

Interesting to look back and see that Rafa Benitez made that change on the bench only four days after the January transfer window closed – I wonder if Matz Sels had been encouraged to go out on loan somewhere, or if maybe Rob Elliot had been expected to do the same to get some pitch time?

So today Newcastle United have put out the message:

“A very happy birthday to Newcastle United and Belgium goalkeeper Matz Sels!”

These generic happy birthday messages are fine but on occasions like this, it is all a bit awkward (though at least with the keeper not being on Twitter these days he might not see it…) when you have been relegated to not even sitting on the bench and Sels must also be in danger of losing his place in the next Belgian squad when it is announced for fixtures in March.

As an aside, Gabriel Obertan was born exactly three years before Matz Sels and the now 28 year old makes his return to St James Park on 1 April, the French winger making another substitute appearance for Wigan yesterday in the 0-0 draw with Forest, after his recent move as a free agent.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])