Former Newcastle United midfielder signs short-term deal with Solihull Moors
It was over seven years ago, July 2012, when Newcastle signed an 18 year old Gael Bigirimana.
Despite his youth, he ended up making 29 first team appearances in that first season as an 18/19 year old.
However, after appearing in a League Cup win at Morecambe on 28 August 2013 in a pretty much second eleven line-up, Bigirimana was never seen again in the NUFC first team.
Back in 2016, the midfielder’s agent blamed Alan Pardew (see below) for stopping the player’s career at St James Park in its tracks.
In that opening season he had looked a very decent player, some fans seeing him as a younger/mini-Cheick Tiote.
However, he eventually moved on and after going back to Coventry, he then moved on to Scotland, playing for Motherwell and then Hibs, who then released him this summer.
Looking for a new club the 26 year old has been training with National League side Solihull Moors and now they have announced the player has signed a short-term contract up to the end of December.
Solihull Moors official site – 29 October 2019:
‘Solihull Moors are delighted to announce the signing of former Newcastle United midfielder Gael Bigirimana on a short-term contract until 28th December.
The 26-year-old has been out of contract after leaving Scottish Premiership side Hibernian at the end of last season.
A Burundi international, Bigirimana started out at Coventry City before making the move to the North East with Newcastle.
He made his Premier League debut in September 2012, coming on as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Bigirimana netted his first professional goal against Wigan Athletic, scoring the third during a 3-0 win.
A brief loan at Rangers was followed by a return to Coventry where, after an initial loan spell, he re-joined permanently in August 2016.
Just under a year later, Bigirimana signed a two-year deal with Scottish Premiership club Motherwell where he went on to make just over 50 appearances in all competitions and helped them reach two cup finals.
His most recent stint at Hibernian, who he joined in January this year, was short-lived and Bigirimana departed Easter Road in May.
The midfielder has spent the last few weeks training with the Moors and is pleased to have secured a contract at the SportNation.bet Stadium.
He said: “It’s exciting for me as a player. I haven’t had a club to play for since the summer when I was at the African Cup of Nations.
“I’ve been training with Solihull Moors for the past one month, so I’m excited to get back and do what I love to do which is playing football, expressing myself and helping the team.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help the boys and contribute to what can be a good season.”
Gael will wear the shirt number 31 for the Moors and with international clearance received this afternoon, he is eligible for this evening’s match against Rangers Colts.’
The Mag – 22 September 2016:
There are claims this morning that Alan Pardew ended the career of a player he brought into Newcastle, only a year after signing on for five seasons at NUFC.
Agent Lee Marsh saying that Gael Bigirimana was told by Alan Pardew that he would never play first team football under him again, despite the player only being 19 at the time.
The midfielder arrived as an 18 year old from Coventry for £1m plus potential bonuses in July 2012 and played an impressive 29 times (including starting the Europa League quarter final match against Benfica at St James Park) for Newcastle in that first season.
Many supporters felt that at last United had signed up a young player with genuine promise, so it came as a major surprise when after turning out in a League Cup win at Morecambe on 28 August 2013, Bigirimana was never seen again in the first team.
Lee Marsh says the then 19 year old asked to be given the odd substitute appearance to try and win back favour but that Alan Pardew ‘was having none of it’.
Agent Lee Marsh:
“He went for a million quid – a lot of money – with add-ons and what I would say is that he was 19 years old and didn’t have the right people around him.
“It seemed that they wanted to move him on quick; the club might have wanted to just take the money because that might have been the best he becomes.
“It was a rush of a deal and he shouldn’t have gone. There were other clubs who were interested – I know Arsenal were looking at him – but the managerial side of things from Alan Pardew was the most alarming thing.
“He’d gone up there, a kid from Burundi having lived in Coventry, which was his club and he respected it, but probably couldn’t turn the move down because of peer pressure from his family – ‘take it, it’s good money’ – and a lot of issues surrounding it. Sometimes kids at that age just can’t turn it down.”
“There were a couple of scenarios where he turned up late for training when some people went to visit him. He took a few days off without asking and got himself a couple of fines that amounted to quite a few thousand quid – an alarming amount.
“Whether it was a case of mature physically and capable of playing the game but immature in terms of how to handle the move, the pressure, the money and living away from Coventry where he was used to things.
“Alan Pardew told him he wasn’t going to play first-team football for him. When a manager tells you that, no matter how much money you’re on, you’re uncomfortable.
“Gael asked to give him ten minutes here and there as a sub, let him play his way into it but Pardew wouldn’t have it.
“It’s not fair for me to sit here and have a go at Pardew but when you have paid close on a million quid for a player that’s 19 years old – it’s like if it was your own son, you’d put your arm around him.
“He’d come from Coventry with an African background. He’s a caring kid, not a boozer, who likes the church – not everyone’s cup of tea in football where a lot of footballers still like the odd drink. Sometimes players don’t fit in to certain squads but it’s up to the management team to make them feel more welcome but I think he felt like a bit of an outcast.
“So he got some of his friends up from Coventry and had a day off here and there without asking and got himself some ridiculous fines.
“He should never have gone but when a manager has made his mind up he doesn’t like you, you’re out of the door.”
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]