When Fabricio Coloccini joined us in the summer of 2008 I was delighted that we were able to buy such a talented player.
I had seen him play for Deportivo when I went to a Malaga game during a Spanish holiday. Colo played attacking midfield and showed his quality by setting up a goal for his team. It was clear that he was a player of immense quality. Immediately I was looking forward to seeing how he would integrate into the team.
However things did not turn out for Colo perhaps as he’d planned. Although I don’t get to many games in a season, I made up for that by watching them on television whenever I could. Colo did not look right in the Premier League. He was unsure what to do when a ball came over the top of him and he made several mistakes during a number of games that led to goals. It was unfortunate for him but it looked like we had paid a lot of money for a player who was now playing like a headless chicken.
Perhaps Colo’s worst game came in the 5-1 defeat that Liverpool inflicted on us, I watched that game on the TV and was appalled by the way that he played. He didn’t know what to do when the opposition came running at him and the Argentine looked out of place in the team.
Mistakes continued to creep into Colo’s season as the Premier League seemed not to suit him at all. I went up to St James’ for the Fulham game where a perfectly good goal for us was disallowed. Coloccini still looked out of place within our squad but, perhaps amazingly, up until the February 1st game against Sunderland, Colo had played in every single minute of our Premier League games. A surprising stat for a player who did not look confident with his ability on the pitch.
Imagine my shock when I heard that Coloccini wanted to stay with Newcastle after we were relegated. I half expected him to jump ship straight away. I was impressed; a player of his calibre was willing to stay with us to help us get back up straight away – unlike the others who promised that they would stay and jumped overboard when they heard that a Premier League club was in for them.
What a season Colo had when we were in the Championship. He had somehow rekindled his form and that may have been in part thanks to Chris Hughton and the training camp that he ran in Ireland with the whole squad.
Coloccini became the starter centre-back and partnered the likes of Fitz Hall, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson and Tamas Kadar at various parts throughout the season. Watching Coloccini on the televised games I could see the improvement that he had made. There was an air of confidence within him; he looked superb on the ball and dealt with those long balls a whole lot better than he had ever done before.
I was able to get to a lot of games during the Championship season as some of the venues were closer to get too. I went up for the home game against Bristol City and although that was a draw Coloccini played so well, stopping Bristol City from getting a goal and coming to the rescue of his centre-back partner several times.
My Dad and I were amazed at the development of his play; he seemed like a new player. I went to the return fixture at Ashton Gate were we came back from two goals down to make it 2-2. Colo played well, but in my eyes Harper was at fault for those goals.
I then went to the Peterborough game where, unfortunately, Harper dealt with a ball that he should have let Colo deal with. The upshot was that Coloccini was scissor kicked by his own goalkeeper and Peterborough scored. After that though normal service was resumed and Colo put in a magnificent performance to help us win that game.
Colo had a great time in the Championship and scored two headed goals for us, showing us his scoring ability. His improvements in his abilities were noted as he was named in the Championship team of the season.
The season back in the Premier League was one all Newcastle fans should be proud of. Coloccini’s form in the Championship followed him back to the big time and he played a fantastic part in many victories. Confidence was oozing right through him. Coloccini was made captain for the Wigan game and in the fourth minute of injury time he scored a goal to level the scores – His first goal in the Premier League. That headed effort was a captain’s effort, rescuing the team when perhaps all hope had been lost.
The goal that Coloccini scored against Spurs reminded me of the talent that I had first saw in the game he played for Deportivo. His true attacking flair was present. I remember Alan Pardew saying that he wanted to play Colo further up the pitch as he had showed his attacking abilities. It was a striker’s finish and goal that showed everyone in the stadium the improvement that he had made.
It was onwards and upwards for Coloccini as he ventured further up the pitch and supplied Peter Lovenkrands for his goal during the 4-1 win over Wolves. Pardew wanted Colo to play that type of football again and called him a ‘top, top player’. Colo had a brilliant season for us and was the rock in defence.
On the 8th July 2011 Coloccini was made club captain by Alan Pardew. An honour that shows how far he has developed into the player he is. He’s on an upward curve in my eyes and he’s shown that he is a ‘top, top player’.
No doubt we will see a lot more of that this coming season. Coloccini has since become a fan’s favourite and the ability that he displayed the last couple of years really does show that we have such a talented central defender playing for the club. Colo will be vital for us next season, both as our captain and in terms leading his defensive line.
What a difference a year makes!