Best reveals Forest snub
Leon Best has revealed he turned down hometown club Nottingham Forest in order to sign for Newcastle.
Last Updated: 05/02/10 10:02am
Leon Best has revealed he turned down a move to hometown club Nottingham Forest in order to sign for Newcastle United.
The 23-year-old striker looks set to make his Magpies debut against Cardiff on Friday night after securing a deadline day move from Coventry.
Best was courted by several clubs after netting 10 goals for the Sky Blues during the first half of the season but insists he was only ever interested in a move to St James' Park.
He said: "This move happened at the right time for me. It was the easiest decision I've had to make in my career.
"I weighed up my options as there was interest from Nottingham Forest but I'm not sure it's always the best thing to do to go back to your home town.
"There were lots of teams interested, but Newcastle were the only ones willing to put the money in and as soon as I heard that I was on the motorway."
The Republic of Ireland international burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old at Southampton and feels the time is now right for him to shrug off his tag of talented youngster.
"I've been talked about as a player with potential ever since I made my debut at Southampton, but you can't be a player of potential your whole career," he added.
"There has got to be a stage where you move on to the next level and I feel I have got the perfect platform to do that with Newcastle."
Hughton gets shirty
Best has been handed the No.20 shirt at Newcastle despite the famous No.9 jersey currently without an owner.
Manager Chris Hughton is adamant he will only bestow that honour if either Best, or one of his strike partners, earns the right to wear it.
Hughton said: "It's one of the most iconic shirts around and it's something I've done deliberately.
"What we have is a lot of strikers here and I'm quite sure every one of them would have wanted to wear the No.9.
"When I came to the club I was made aware of what the No.9 meant to this place and it's a combination of a few things.
"For some, I think it can be a heavy number to carry, a burden if you like, and wearing it is an achievement which I want somebody to grow into. I want somebody to earn the right to be Newcastle's No.9."
Best understands that decision and has vowed to do all he can to secure that shirt in the future.
He said: "They showed me the numbers that were available when I signed and I took the 20. The No.9 shirt has to be earned here, it isn't like the No.9 shirt at other clubs.
"You can't just walk in and take it."