Philippe Albert reflects on his time at Newcastle


Dan Burke

Article image: Philippe Albert reflects on his time at Newcastle

Philippe Albert will always have a special place in his heart for Newcastle and for the Magpies fans, the feeling is mutual.

Albert wrote his name into Geordie folklore with his sensational chip over Peter Schmeichel in a memorable 5-0 win over Manchester United in 1996.

And 20 years after leaving the club, the former Belgian defender has shared some of his favourite memories of his time on Tyneside, including this revelation about Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer …

“Les [Ferdinand] was the best header of the ball I’ve seen. Better than Alan Shearer. He would jump and just stay in the air, floating,” the 52-year-old told the Guardian.

“Tino [Asprilla] was also a great player. When he wanted to play, he could win a game by himself. But when he didn’t want to play, it was like playing with 10 men. That’s difficult in the Premier League.

“He was a funny guy: he might not wake up for training, be 40 minutes late and then two days later would score a hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League. He was different.

Albert was brought to St James’ Park from Anderlecht by Kevin Keegan in 1994, and he says working with the Newcastle legend was one of the best experiences of his career.

“Keegan was a big part of why every player came to Newcastle,” he said.

“When you speak to him, you just want one thing: to join the club. You don’t need to talk about money; he was just so charismatic. As a kid, I would watch him on television playing for Liverpool or Hamburg and a few years later I was playing under him.

“Keegan was a world star. Even if I had played just six months under him, that would have been the best time of my life. When I met him, I knew straight away.”

And what does Albert remember about that chip?

“It was a good goal,” he says.

“After the match Keegan went around the dressing room shaking hands with everybody. He was delighted. We were given the next day off.”