Nikos Dabizas played for Newcastle from 1998 until 2004, and all but a year of that time was spent under the management of the great Bobby Robson.
Nikos Dabizas – in action for Greek side Larrissa
The Greek center-back, who is now 38 years old and only retired from playing a year ago, played 70 times for his country, and he played over 150 times for the Magpies.
Dabizas returned to Tyneside earlier this month, for the unveiling of the bronze statue of Sir Bobby Robson, and Nikos will have Bobby Robson for his inspiration, as he pursues a career in coaching.
Newcastle are now flying high after being relegated a short three years ago, when all was doom and gloom on Tyneside, and who would have thought, at that time, that Newcastle could make such an amazing and successful comeback to the big time.
This is what Nikos had to say today:
“History repeats itself, and this is a good thing,” “The club is doing very, very well, and it’s testament to the people involved in this job. Sir Bobby would be very proud.”
“I think the secret was to hold the same team, the same spine, for two or three years,” “A lot of changes have been made. They’ve improved the team radically with the players that came.”
“This is a sign of good organisation in the team.” “Three years ago, things were not very optimistic. Things change in football. If you are patient, and make logical decisions, football will repay you in the long term.”
“If you want to be at the top, you have to score goals.” “Before that, you have to not concede a goal, otherwise you’re always trying to score goals because you concede an early goal.”
“It makes your life more difficult, and you leave more spaces and gaps at the back. It’s more difficult for the defenders. Newcastle is always a difficult place for the defenders because the team is an attacking team.”
“The fans want to attack and score goals, and you have to have the right balance between attack and defence. This is happening to Newcastle.” “Whoever is passing this spot will see Sir Bobby Robson, and remember his achievements for Newcastle United.”
“It was a great day for Newcastle United. Sir Bobby was an inspiration to the North East, the players and everyone related the club.” “They were great days, and it’s good to see them back this year.”
“I’ve met a lot of people in football, but no one like Sir Bobby. He was very enthusiastic.” “Whatever he said, even the simplest thing, he would make it sound a great, great piece of work.”
“He was totally different from other people I’ve met in my life. He had a special energy inside him, and he could always pass it on to you.” “If your mood was down, he could lift you. The club had some fantastic performances, and it was thanks to that man.”
“I’m taking my coaching badges and travelling across Europe.” “I was in Italy, and I’m going to Amsterdam Ajax to improve and take some knowledge from European football. After that, we’ll see how it goes.”
“Sir Bobby was a man that I’ll take a lot of things from. If you want to be successful and clever, you have to take things you have seen in football. I’ll be trying to copy him.”
Those are good words from Nikos, and he’s right that Bobby Robson is an inspiration to a lot of us – and you can certainly tell from Niko’s words, how he holds Bobby Robson in the very highest esteem.
But under Bobby Newcastle were never very good in defense, but certainly a lot better than Kevin Keegan’ Entertainers of the 1990s. With Kevins’ team it was a case of – let’s see how many you can score – and we’ll score more.
But last season Newcastle kept 15 clean sheets, to their credit, and only the two Manchester clubs had better records than that, and the fact that Alan Pardew wants to improve the defense this summer, suggests we could do even better than that next season.
Nikos was a very good player for Newcastle, and when he left Newcastle in 2004 he played a season at Leicester City before joining Greek club Larissa in 2006, and he played five seasons for them before finally retiring only last year.
Dabizas always gave his best on Tyneside, and of course played in the Champions League for Newcastle in our heyday under the great Bobby Robson.
We wish him all the success in the world in his upcoming coaching career, and if he is anything like Bobby Robson – he’ll be a huge success.