Anyone who scores the winning goal against the Mackems deserves a place in the NUFC Hall of Fame.
Nick the Greek signed for us in March 1998 and went on to have a very successful tenure in front of the Gallowgate. In his first season he clocked up 11 appearances as Newcastle finished with 44 points – only four points above the relegation zone.
This was an absolutely horrific season by Newcastle’s standards at the time as the side had never finished below 6th since the return to the top flight. Before the season started, Kenny Dalglish, in a whiskey induced stupor, sold David Ginola and Les Ferdinand replacing them with his old mates John Barnes and Ian Rush.
This was Kenny’s first full season in charge and although he recorded a famous 3-2 win against Barca and reached the FA Cup final, his defence needed some serious muscle going into the home straight if we were to secure Premier League status.
Enter Nikos Dabizas – one of Kenny’s only decent signings. Dabizas was recommended to Dalglish by Temuri Ketsbaia who had spoken about his struggle whilst playing against Nikos in the Greek league. We paid £2 million for Nikos who went on to make 119 starts and 11 sub appearances in a six year stint at the club.
Cheers Temuri! Step aside Graham Carr!
Dabizas was 6 foot 2 and was instantly liked on Tyneside. He received a rapturous ovation on his debut, coming on as a sub for the injured ‘Psycho’ Stuart Pearce. Nikos was also the first Greek player to EVER feature in an FA Cup final.
His strength and leadership skills at the back were a great benefit to a shaky Newcastle defence and whilst Nikos wasn’t the best defender I have ever seen, I always remember that he would stand up to be counted whilst always being 100% committed to the cause.
Kenny soon departed after a less than successful time upon-Tyne and was replaced by Ruud Gullit. The opportunities started to dry up under Gullit, as Ruud brought in his own players in the shape of Domi, Marcelino, Doumas and Goma. Now looking back, that has to be four of the worst defensive signings anyone could have possibly made in the history of human existence.
Dabizas was linked with numerous moves away from the club, until Sir Bobby came back to grace us with his amazing presence. RIP the Geordie Grandad.
Sir Bobby showed faith in Nikos, giving him the captains armband in a pre-season tour of the States and Nikos gave Robson back plenty in return – probably his best season yet in a Black and White shirt.
24th February 2002. The Stadium of Light. Dabizas 1 – 0 Sunderland.
Dabizas left the club to join Leicester City in 2003, as his playing time was reduced by the arrival of Wobble Heed Jonny Woodgate and a car crash injury to Nick saw other players come to the fore for the Tyneside club.
“Football is a spectacle, it’s for the fans. We’re ultimately the servants of football, we’re there to entertain. Without the fans, football has no meaning.”
Wise words from a cracking player!