‘I was just staring at Alan Shearer, I just couldn’t believe I was there. It was almost surreal.’
Describing Sir Bobby Robson as ‘one of the greatest ever managers’, Lomana Lualua has been reflecting on his football career and especially his days at St James Park.
It was Sir Bobby who took the striker/winger to Newcastle from Colchester and whilst he was never a regular, he was a talented (if erratic) player who was often entertaining.
Famous for his back flips when scoring, Lomana Lualua reveals that he first learnt to do them when growing up in Congo, they kept a small monkey as a pet in the house and the future Newcastle star copied his moves.
Whilst he didn’t really fulfil his true potential, Lualua did produce moments of pure quality.
Maybe his finest match was in the Champions League away at Bayer Leverkusen in 2oo3, when with both Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy ruled out, Lomana Lualua and Shola Ameobi ran the Bundesliga side ragged (honest!). The pair creating mayhem for the home side, with Shola scoring two and then Lualua adding a third to end the game 3-1 to Newcastle.
The occasion was made all the more special as it was also the day of Sir Bobby Robson’s 70th birthday.
Lomana Lualua went on an initial loan to Portsmouth before a permanent deal for around £2m. During his loan spell he helped prompt a change in the laws, scoring a last minute equaliser against Newcastle, from the following season a rule change meant loan players could no longer play against the club who had loaned them out.
Lomana Lualua is a committed Christian and he was talking to ‘Cross The Line’ who are ‘Passionate about combining our love for Jesus and our love for sport.’
You went on to join Newcastle United, that must have been a massive moment for your career?
“It was amazing but you know, I was telling the boys in the Colchester youth team that I would get a big move. I said that I’m going to go and play at a higher level, but I had no idea that it was going to happen that quickly. I didn’t want to play youth team football, I was ready for the first team. I used to play with my Dad who was an ex-professional player, so I was used to playing with older guys. I already knew what I wanted from an early age.
“When you put your faith in God, there’s no such thing as luck. The Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He was always there for me and I believed in my God given talent.
“In actual fact, I was actually meant to join Tottenham. However, they didn’t offer Colchester as much money as Newcastle United so I ended up there which I don’t regret.
“I was able to play under Sir Bobby Robson who was one of the greatest ever managers. All of a sudden, I was playing with the likes of Rob Lee and Alan Shearer.
“I tell you what, there were times when I would be sitting in the canteen at the club and I was just staring at Alan Shearer because I just couldn’t believe I was there. It was almost surreal.
“Gary Speed was incredible for all the young players, he gave us advice everyday and was a breath of fresh air to all of us.”
Talk us through your world famous back-flip celebration. How did that start?
“Growing up in Congo, you either went to school in the morning or the afternoon. I went in the morning and all of my friends would go in the afternoon which meant I would often be alone.
“We used to have this little monkey in my house and I saw him doing these flips and at that age, I was fearless, so I would copy it! I’d try it on my own or my mums bed and I think I broke many beds in my time!
“Gymnastics in Congo isn’t like it is in England, you don’t have any mats or anything like that. We just have sand, so I tried it there and I just got it. To be fair, it has helped me. It gives me a good leap in the air but more than that, the celebration reflects who I am as a person and who God intended me to be.”
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