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Leaving Newcastle United For Fame And Fortune….

10 years ago

Leaving Newcastle United, never an option for the supporters but many players, for many different reasons, have left over the years.

Yesterday I looked at players such as Woodgate, Dyer, Jenas and others (‘Is The Grass Ever Greener When Players Leave Newcastle United?’) who looked to ‘better’ themselves by moving away from St.James’ Park, today I’m looking at some other interesting cases.

Shay Given – A loyal servant to Newcastle for twelve years, Given decided that for the sake of his career he would move to Man.City in January 2009. In hindsight however, I bet Shay wished he hadn’t, as no sooner had he arrived than he found that his position was firmly on the substitute’s bench due to the emergence of current England number one, Joe Hart.

Registering 0 appearances in his second full season at Eastlands, Given moved to Aston Villa in the summer of 2011 and spent last season fighting off the threat of relegation, whilst his former employers finished 5th.

Charles N’Zogbia – Yet another talented Newcastle youngster who had the wrong attitude and took his position for granted. He performed well and was a skilful talent no doubt, however the word that springs to most Newcastle fans’ mind regarding ‘Zog’ is petulance. Frequently linking himself with moves to ‘bigger’ clubs which never transpired, N’Zogbia eventually got his wish as a result of Joe Kinnear’s infamous ‘insomnia’ incident in January 2009.

However, the move that he had seemed so eager to push for ended with him going to Wigan, where he spent two and a half seasons playing for a relegation threatened club. A move to Aston Villa followed in the summer of 2011, where he spent last season once more fighting relegation, evidence that his career has suffered as a result of leaving Tyneside.

Habib Beye – Signed for £2million in the summer of 2007, Beye had a tremendous first season, picking up Newcastle’s player of the year – leading Kevin Keegan to call him one of the best right-backs in the division. Despite this though, Beye left after Newcastle’s relegation in the summer of 2009 to join Aston Villa.

Since moving however, his career has been nothing short of a disaster. At Villa, Beye made just 9 appearances in 2 years and was deemed surplus to requirements. Worse was to follow though, as Beye has since signed for Doncaster Rovers and was part of their relegation from the Championship last season, meaning will be lining up for them in League One next year in an incredible turn of fortunes.

Michael Owen – Club record signing for £16million in the summer of 2005 and I would suggest, pound for pound, possibly Newcastle’s worst ever signing. During his four years on Tyneside, Owen spent the majority out injured and proved a useless captain in Newcastle’s relegation campaign. What’s more, even though he was one of the chief culprits for the drop into the Championship, Owen couldn’t jump ship quick enough with a surprising move to Man.Utd in the summer of 2009. Since then however, Owen has got more used to the feeling of sitting on the bench rather than kicking a football, typified by his 1 appearance last season.

Despite this though, during the epic final day showdown of last season’s Premier League, when the Man.United game had finished but the City one was still ongoing and the destination of the title still unknown.  Owen comically, who hadn’t played that day, was proudly there in his full kit, shinpads and all,  ready to join in the celebrations of a title that he would have had literally nothing to do with. Thankfully however, Aguero scored to give the title to City and Owen has since been released.

Obafemi Martins – A striker who rose to prominence with Inter Milan and was signed for £10million in the summer of 2006 as a response to Alan Shearer’s retirement. Somewhat erratic and far from prolific, Martins was nonetheless a talented footballer capable of the superb, such as his goal against Tottenham in the 2006/2007 season at White Hart Lane.

Was one of a number of players to leave Newcastle after their relegation and ended up signing for Wolfsburg in Germany. After which Martins signed for Russian club Rubin Kazan and having failed to settle there went on loan to Birmingham City in 2011, however he failed to earn a permanent deal at St.Andrews illustrating how his career has stuttered since leaving.

Sebastien Bassong –  An unknown quantity who signed off the back of a trial in the summer of 2008, Bassong went from strength to strength during the 2008/2009 season, eventually picking up Newcastle’s player of the year award.

Despite this however, after just one season on Tyneside Bassong moved to Spurs after Newcastle’s relegation in the summer of 2009. Since moving however, he has never been first choice at the Lane and ended up being sent out on loan to relegated Wolves last season.


James Milner – The only possible success I can find, Milner was a strong and youthful player on Tyneside with a lot of talent and his selling to Aston Villa on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window contributed to Kevin Keegan’s resignation. At Villa, Milner was part of a set-up which challenged for Champions League football and he has since signed for Man.City, where he won the Premiership title last season. Therefore perhaps Milner is the only player I can find that has succeeded by leaving Newcastle to a ‘bigger’ club in the last decade or so.

Therefore, the overwhelming consensus as illustrated by Enrique, Carroll and Barton this season and all these examples before them is that on the whole, the grass is never greener when you leave Newcastle. Accordingly, the message to Newcastle’s current players must be…don’t leave!

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