Ben Tozer, our 17 year-old new signing from Swindon Town, has admitted he is still living a dream after the Plymouth-born youngster signed for Newcastle United last week.
Ben Tozer – in training at Newcastle last week with the first team
Ben signed a 4.5 year deal at the club and was the first in of many youngsters we expect to be arriving at the club under Chairman Chris Mort. Newcastle also signed 18 year-old French youngster Wesley Baheng, and 17 year-old Hungarian Tamas Kadar last week.
Tozer can be forgiven for pinching himself as he trains with a Newcastle first team that includes Michael Owen, Nicky Butt, Alan Smith, Shay Given, Mark Viduka and Damien Duff. The 17-year-old has told the local newspaper at Swindon that the size of the squad, the scale of the set-up at St James’ Park and the passion of the Newcastle supporters has taken him aback.
And, although it is early in 2008, describing Tozer’s first week as memorable, probably ranks as the understatement of the year so far. Benâ€™s move to Newcastle could end up netting Swindon Â£1.1M, but Tozer’s excitement was dramatically dampened by the departure of Sam Allardyce last Wednesday.
Ben has admitted to being shocked and saddened by Sam Allardyce’s sacking at the club. He has already had encouraging advice from both Big Sam and Sir Bobby Robson on his induction day at St James’ Park, and has been told to “work hard and you’ll be alright.”
Tozer told the Wiltshire Herald Sport today:
“My head has been in the clouds since I came to Newcastle – it’s a dream move for me, no question.â€ “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and an absolutely brilliant club to join.â€
“It’s awesome, really, nothing prepares you for the difference, with all due respect, to Swindon and Plymouth.â€ “I was pretty shocked and saddened at Mr. Allardyce leaving – he seems a really nice man and had been very supportive of me.â€
“He (Allardyce) put me at my ease and joked that I’d need to beef up as I’m still growing so weight-wise I’m not as big as I need to be.” “So, I spent my first day proper training with the club, mostly in the weights room.”
“But I’ve also trained with some of the first-team players which was incredible – they are fantastic players.” “However, I’m not going to show them too much respect in practice matches – I’ll be looking to make sure I’m the one who wins the ball.”
“But, to be honest, when you see the quality of the reserves side, it just shows how far I’ve got to go.” “I watched us play Sunderland reserves and there was about 1,000 fans at the stadium – the atmosphere was unbelievable.”
“I feel really privileged to be given this chance.” “But I owe so much to Paul Sturrock, John Blackley and Dave Byrne for their help and support at Swindon and for believing in me.” “I’d like to give them a big thank you from me and my family.”
New Swindon assistant-boss Byrne, who worked with the defender last year at Home Park, predicted a tremendous future for Tozer.
“I told his mum and dad when I signed him that he’d go a long way – and he’s already started out on that journey now.â€
“I think he’ll be playing for Newcastle sooner than they (his parents) think and if he keeps progressing, he’ll play for England.”
Swindon may be proud of their youngster but Newcastle United are also very pleased to have the teenager on board, and thereâ€™s no limit to what Ben can achieve at Newcastle. But he should take note of what Bobby Robson has told him â€“ â€œwork hard and you’ll be alrightâ€.Bobby knows what heâ€™s talking about in football â€“ thatâ€™s for sure.