Earn your stripes!

Image: Ginola: adopted Geordie

Frenchman David Ginola told Goals on Sunday just what it means to pull on the black and white shirt.

Playing for Newcastle means so much more, says Ginola

David Ginola believes Newcastle's problems stemmed from poor management and players that didn't know what it means to play for the club. The flamboyant Frenchman was part of the famous Kevin Keegan team that entertained the Premier League only to lose out on winning the title in 1995-96. Although he and his team-mates were renowned for their flair going forward and inability to defend, he says they all knew just how important to the people Newcastle United Football Club is. And that, he says, is where the Toon went wrong "When I signed for Newcastle I didn't know the English mentality, I didn't know about the English tradition and I came straight away to the North East - and its one part of the world that is even different from the rest of England," he told Goals on Sunday. "When I got there I said 'this is football in England? It's fantastic!'. If you play football at St James Park, it's something completely different. "I was there at Newcastle the week before Kevin Keegan was sacked (last year). I visited the training ground and the new facilities, met up with Terry McDermott and George Taylor, who was in charge of me when I arrived and I was surprised because I thought Keegan was the kind of manager that could bring success to the club. That was my feeling at the time.


"But then the mentality of players has changed a lot, I saw so many changes in the way players think about the game. It's not a question of money because at the time we were also paid a lot of money. "My main concern was to see the involvement of the players in the club. When you wear that zebra shirt, it's a whole tradition behind you. "Even if you're French and you've just arrived, you need to know what's going on. The Geordies are not the same as the Brummies, or the Cockneys, it's a proper mentality and you need to know what goes on in the city before you wear that shirt - you have a lot of responsibility." Ginola also believes it is not just down to the amount of foreign players that have come into the club - or English football in general. He says the chairmen and clubs are at fault for watering down the sense of tradition with their exotic signings, except those of course, from St Tropez. But at Newcastle, he was left in no doubt that it was the people's club, within days of making the move from France. "If you say it's the fault of the foreign players you have to say it's the fault of the chairmen and of English football because they bought the foreign players," he said. "We didn't impose ourselves on clubs, we were just asked to come and play in the Premier League. "When I arrived with my wife in July 1995, it was like discovering a new world! Can you imagine a man arriving from St Tropez at the airport?
"When we were training in Durham University they were common facilities because it was a university and I remember being in the dressing room and Les Ferdinand was sitting next to me. "But I saw a guy to my right who didn't look like a footballer player, so I asked Les 'is he one of our players?' and he said no, he's come to play tennis! He had come to play tennis and was sitting next to Les Ferdinand, Peter Beardsley and myself! "It was a bit different to what I was used to in France." Life at Newcastle is now a lot different to what they are used to. After last season's relegation they are sat proudly at the top of the Championship and after months of uncertainty Chris Hughton has finally been given the manager's job on a permanent basis. Controversial owner Mike Ashley has also taken the club off the market and even if he has upset many people, the Frenchman included, by selling the naming rights to St James Park, Ginola believes the club had to go back before it could go forwards again. "Sometimes you have to start from scratch," he said. "They have been struggling for so many years and the other day I was talking to a journalist and talking about how they haven't win anything, how they had been struggling to reach the top of the table every year, but sometimes to go down one division and start again with new targets and new people, its' good. "Everybody talks about last season because obviously they have been relegated last season, but it's previous years. "I remember under Kevin Keegan and Sir John Hall, in 1995, 1996, 1997 the team was brilliant, the staff were brilliant; every single person in the club was doing their best."

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