This year Leon Best has come in from the cold at Newcastle, and even looks like a good player on Tyneside.
Leon Best – in action against Wigan
When Leon was bought from Coventry for around £1.5M (?), on the very last day of last year’s January transfer window, he was a shock choice to most Newcastle fans, and did not make a good start to his career on Tyneside.
At that time Andy Carroll and Peter Lovenkrands were in red hot form, and Leon didn’t start many games at all.
Best played 13 times last season, but didn’t manage to score one goal, and then in pre-season last summer, he did score a couple of good opportunist goals, but was then injured – and disappeared again.
But it was when Andy Carroll was injured late last year, that Leon Best was brought in from the cold, and he demonstrated just what he can do, when he hit a fabulous hat-trick for Newcastle, as they took West Ham apart 5-0, at St. James’ Park in early January.
And then last Saturday, after having a poor first half like most other Newcastle players, Leon scored his 4th goal for Newcastle in 7 appearances this season, and had another goal wrongly disallowed for offside, but in both cases showed what an opportunistic striker he can be.
Leon now has a great chance in the next few games, to show that he can indeed do a job on Tyneside, and he talked about his chance today:
“I knew I had been written off but that’s what happens if you don’t produce straight away.” “You’re put to the back of the queue and slowly forgotten about.”
“For the fans I was not here any more, for me, I just knew I if I was given a chance that I could take it.” “I don’t think I was given a good chance, that’s my view. They say you get a chance for 15 minutes, but that’s not being given a chance.”
“There’s a difference when you are given three or four game on the trot and you feel fit and sharp. That’s a chance. If you’re thrown in after not playing for months, that’s not a chance.”
“I was made aware that the fans were not keen on me playing afterwards and there were a few groans when my name was read out against West Ham. I knew there were no great hopes from the fans on me. When I did find out, I had the hat-trick to my name.”
“Now I’m playing, scoring and delighted. In hindsight maybe I pushed myself too hard to get back and impress. It was never really right. When I did get my hat-trick, it was such a relief. It just shows you there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
There’s no doubt that the hat-trick against West Ham was a personal triumph for the 24 year-old, as most Newcastle fans had written him off, but he roared back that night big time.
And we now know this lad can play a bit, and it would be just great if the former Southampton trainee can make a good career for himself at the Newcastle club.
“Andy Carroll goes for £35m, Shola is out injured, I suppose there is a bit of pressure on me. But the weight is off my shoulders.”
I feel like I am wanted and it is a proper chance for me. If that’s the way it has happened then that is fine by me.”
“I would have loved to have played alongside Andy, but I was probably the one person who had something to gain from him going.”
We were told by Kevin Nolan and the other players before the West Ham game, that Leon was a good lad, and that he had worked his socks off in the year he’s been on Tyneside to overcome all his injuries.
And that revelation seemed to open the door for both Leon and the fans – and the Nottingham-born player took his chance with both feet and a great hat-trick that night – it was a night to remember for Leon.
Now we need some goals from Leon in the next few games, with Andy gone forever, and Shola out injured for a few weeks, and hopefully Leon can start this afternoon at Blackburn Rovers.
If he can get the goals while Shola is out, Leon can still have a more than decent career on Tyneside.