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“Kid” Dynamite…Obafemi Martins

3 weeks ago

World Cup 2006 and the calculating Michael Owen had been saving himself for potential international glory in Germany.

After easing himself back to some sort of fitness at Newcastle after his latest injury, Michael Owen was named in the hapless Sven Goran Eriksson’s squad as one of only four “strikers” with Rooney, Crouch and a relatively untried 17 year old, Theo Walcott.

Whether the head coach had tempted fate or not, Michael Owen was seriously injured against Eriksson’s fellow Swedes early on…Glenn Roeder and Freddie Shepherd stared on in disbelief from Tyneside.

There was talk of Freddie asking the FA for compensation (over and above what clubs are usually entitled to when a player is injured on international duty0, but he went and did what he did best instead.

He sent the scouts out scouring the market and they came up with a gem, paid the going rate (£10m) to bring in Obafemi Martins from Inter Milan. The striker signing for Newcastle exactly 15 years ago today (24 August 2006).

Glenn Roeder was delighted, Obafemi Martins relatively diminutive but quick and powerful, with a leap like a salmon. It didn’t take Toon fans long to discover that he also had dynamite in both feet and wasn’t afraid to shoot.

The goals came and some of them were truly explosive and spectacular, scoring 11 goals in his opening Newcastle United season. Owen’s absence (only started three Premier League matches in 2006/07 towards the end of the season) had nearly been forgotten as fans enjoyed this little Nigerian’s repertoirè of skills, goals and somersaults….and a beaming smile the width of the Tyne Bridge.

Newcastle United never pulled any trees up in the Premiership in 2006-07 and Glenn Roeder was replaced by Sam Allardyce, weeks before Mike Ashley’s disastrous takeover.

After only eight months Big Sam was replaced by Kevin Keegan, who once again pulled off a rescue act to keep us up.

Obafemi Martins must have been wondering what he had let himself in for, as Joe Kinnear soon became his fourth manager at the club, just over two years after first arriving on Tyneside.

After Kinnear’s heart scare in early 2009, Chris Hughton temporarily took over until Alan Shearer was then tasked with keeping Newcastle up.

Newcastle entered a win or bust Tyne/Tees derby with Martins, Owen and Viduka leading the line and Oba scored in a 3-1 victory. This basically was to be his swansong at Newcastle as the club were ultimately relegated.

Obafemi Martins was not to be denied his moment of glory in English football though. In 2011, against all the odds, Oba popped up with the winning goal for Birmingham City against Arsenal in the League Cup final.

A definitive little maverick, who I deliberately missed out of a recent article on NUFC mavericks, so I could base an article solely around a special lad playing in an unhappy situation and environment.


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