In this blog I shall be sharing my opinion on the top 10 players to have worn the famous Black and White of Newcastle United since the year 1990.
Having recently taken the time to create a 25 man shortlist, I have now achieved a task which proved far harder than I had ever imagined and have whittled it down to just 10. My decision to feature only players which have represented the club since 1990 was one I made out of respect for all previous NUFC legends and was simply down to my own age. I feel that to really judge a player’s ability, actually witnessing them play on a regular basis is a must. This is something I cannot say I have done with all NUFC players pre-1990, and therefore I feel it would be highly unjust of me to even attempt including them in this list.
Now then, let’s get down to business and start that countdown…
Having been signed for a bargain £1.5m from Blackburn Rovers in 1997, Shay Given must go down as one of ex-boss Kenny Daglish’s best ever signings. In his 12 year stint on Tyneside, Given would be seen defying the odds with saves of the highest calibre on a weekly basis. For me, Shay isn’t only the best NUFC goalkeeper ever, but he is also one of the best ‘keepers to have ever played in this country.
As a fan, I can honestly say that Tino Asprilla’s hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League is a memory that I rank up there with the best. Asprilla may not have played as many games as he would have liked in his time with us, largely down to the superb partnership formed upfront between ‘Sir Les’ and ‘Big Al’ at that time, however when he did play, he’d almost always bring St James’ Park alive with what I can only describe as sheer ability.
Why does he make my list?… because he’s worth it! Ginola played for NUFC as part of Kevin Keegan’s ‘The Entertainers’, a team remembered for producing an attacking style of play that done just that, entertain. With the ball at his feet this Frenchman was inspirational to all of those around him and I can’t help but feel that had we of won the league in 1996, he’d of been remembered as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players.
Will a centre-back ever score a goal as good as our Belgian legend’s sublime chip over Peter Schmeichel? Not likely! In fact, if you disagree then I’d suggest that you stop reading now and leave this site to put on your Sunderland shirt ready for yet another derby day hiding come March 4th. Cool, calm, collected, Philippe Albert was the epitome of composure and quite rightly takes his place among Newcastle’s greatest. “Philippe, Philippe Albert, everyone knows his name!”
“We can’t replace Gary Speed. Where do you get an experienced player with a left foot and a head?” Now as silly as this quote may sound, if the late Sir Bobby Robson rates you highly enough to describe you as irreplaceable, you’re one hell of a player! A model professional and a gentleman, Speedo will be remembered fondly by not only fans of Newcastle United, but by all fans of the beautiful game. RIP Gary.
When a certain Kevin Keegan dubs you as the “Best midfielder in Britain”, you’d better believe it’s true. During the 1990’s Rob Lee was the heartbeat of Newcastle United. A real midfield dynamo, Lee helped us gain promotion to the Premier League in his very first season as a Toon player. He then went from strength to strength and quickly became a crucial component in a team that many fans, including myself, would describe as the best NUFC team we’ve ever had.
Coming in at no.4, I give you our former dead ball specialist, Nobby Solano. When this little Peruvian was on the pitch it was never a matter of if a chance would come, but when a chance would come. He is what I would describe as the perfect wide man. Simply put, if you’re a striker and you have a player like this in your team, you’re going to score goals.
What can you say about ‘Sir Les’? Having joined the club at the start of our famous 1995-96 season, our new no.9 was coming into what was already a fantastic Newcastle United team, yet he still managed to be a stand out player. He grabbed an astonishing 29 goals in his first season and although that wasn’t quite enough to clinch the title, it did earn him legendary status within Toon.
Following on from a great striker, I give you the greatest. As you all know, ‘Big Al’ is the Premier League’s all time leading goal scorer with an outstanding 260 goals, a feat that I personally believe will never be matched. Turning down a move to Manchester United in order to sign for us made him somewhat of an instant hero to most of us fans, but it was the goals he scored during his time here on Tyneside that really made him the NUFC icon that he is today. Our greatest ever no.9?
It may seem rather controversial to many of you that I have Peter ‘The Great’ coming in at no.1 above that man Alan Shearer, however, for me he was simply untouchable while wearing our famous Black and White. He was the ultimate footballer and my boyhood idol. Growing up watching this man was truly an honour, he made the game beautiful and, to me, he is unquestionably Newcastle United’s greatest player within the modern era.
So there you have it, my list of top ten NUFC players since 1990 is complete. It goes without saying that many of you will disagree with me in one way or another and that is perfectly fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, if you would all be kind enough to spend the next 4 minutes and 46 seconds watching the following video I would appreciate it greatly.
Lads and lasses, I give you the man I believe to be Newcastle United’s greatest player since the 1990’s, Peter ‘The Great’ Beardsley…