One of the greatest to put on the black and white shirt, Ginola had it all. Grace, skill, charisma and ability in abundance, he was a dose of continental flair to the entertainers who so nearly won the title back in ’95. Equally impressive on either foot Ginola terrorised Premiership defenders who had simply never come against his kind of brilliance before.
Criticised by some for diving, Ginola certainly took a lot of fouls as defenders struggled to cope with his exceptional dribbling ability. Being so adept with both feet gave Ginola the advantage of taking on full backs with the option of going out wide or cutting back inside. Many managers quickly decided to double up on Ginola, it didn’t make much of a difference as he nonchalantly skipped past them both before whipping in beautiful crosses for the likes of Ferdinand to attack.
Many will remember his right footed goals against Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester United live on Sky but my overawing memory of Ginola was one of the greatest goals I have ever seen when he scored an unbelievable volley against Ferencvaros in ’96. If you have never seen it or have simply forgotten it, I implore you to youtube it right now. After a corner is half cleared, Ginola thighs it under control before clipping it magnificently over the onrushing defender with his right before volleying with the left foot from the edge of the area into the top corner of the net. It is majestic stuff from a genius.
I also remember him skipping beautifully past a sliding Gary Neville during the United 5-nil thumping at St. James’s Park. At his enigmatic best, Ginola was a world beater. A player of the highest calibre. Unfortunately, he found things increasingly difficult on Tyneside, particularly after Keegan left and Dalglish arrived. The lure of London and a manager who didn’t appreciate his lack of defensive duty finally saw Ginola move to Spurs after just two memorable seasons on Tyneside. For his ability alone he should make the top five.
To hear of his recent medical concerns was really saddening and Newcastle fans will wish him a full and speedy recovery.