Champions League hero wonders where NUFC atmosphere has gone
On 23 October 2002, Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United took on Italian giants Juventus in the Champions League at St. James’ Park.
The visitors had some true greats in their line-up, with Turam, Del Piero, Buffon, Nedved and Davids facing United.
The hero on that October night was an unlikely one, full-back Andy Griffin getting a short corner from Laurent Robert before driving through the Juve defence and lashing the ball into the net via Buffon’s elbow (watch the goal below).
It was some night and after the final whistle showed a 1-0 scoreline, visiting Manager/Coach Marcello Lippi said:
“Coming to play in a stadium like Newcastle United’s ground is not an easy task.”
Moving forward thirteen years and that night’s goalscorer is making his way back to St. James’ Park on Sunday, working for BBC Radio Stoke.
Griffin has been reminiscing about those great days (and nights!) under Sir Bobby Robson, but also revealed that he’d brought his son for a much anticipated visit to St. James’ Park last season. The former full-back saying he couldn’t believe how bad the atmosphere was these days and just how different a club Newcastle United is now.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, Andy Griffin:
“For me it was five years of challenging for the title under Sir Bobby.
“We weren’t quite good enough to win the league but we were good enough to get into the Champions League, which was like winning a trophy in itself.”
NUFC hasn’t been the same since;
“It was a wonderful time, but since Sir Bobby left it hasn’t been the same up there.
“In recent times it hasn’t been the same club, they haven’t had that buzz for a while.”
Where’s the atmosphere?;
“I went with my son, Cianan, to the last game of last season up there because I’d always wanted to take him.
“I told him beforehand about the terrific atmosphere, but when we got there you could sense an element of frustration and the atmosphere wasn’t what it was.”
Watch Andy Griffin’s match winner against Juventus below.
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