When Gael Bigirimana first arrived at Newcastle from Coventry City for £1M in the summer of 2012 as an 18 year-old, he was looked upon as being a top young player who could improve at Newcastle.
And certainly in that first season when we were in the Europa League he did look a very good player – and he played 24 times for us with one goal – but since that season he played only one more time for Newcastle United.
We often wondered what exactly happened to such a promising young player who played as a defensive midfielder.
Gael Bigirimana while at Newcastle
Well according to his agent it turns out that Alan Pardew gave up on him after he didn’t turn up for training a couple of times and told him he wouldn’t play for the Newcastle first team again.
His agent is now Lee Marsh and he has revealed a lot about Gael’s time at Newcastle via the Coventry Telegraph today:
“He was a young lad and everyone was looking at him for the future.”
“He went for a million quid – a lot of money – with add-ons and what I would say is that he was 19 years old and didn’t have the right people around him.”
“It seemed that they wanted to move him on quick; the club might have wanted to just take the money because that might have been the best he becomes.”
“There were a couple of scenarios where he turned up late for training when some people went to visit him.”
“He took a few days off without asking and got himself a couple of fines that amounted to quite a few thousand quid – an alarming amount.”
“Whether it was a case of mature physically and capable of playing the game but immature in terms of how to handle the move, the pressure, the money and living away from Coventry where he was used to things.”
“Alan Pardew told him he wasn’t going to play first-team football for him. When a manager tells you that, no matter how much money you’re on, you’re uncomfortable.”
“Gael asked to give him ten minutes here and there as a sub, let him play his way into it but Pardew wouldn’t have it.”
“It’s not fair for me to sit here and have a go at Pardew, but when you have paid close on a million quid for a player that’s 19 years old – it’s like if it was your own son, you’d put your arm around him.”
“It was a rush of a deal and he shouldn’t have gone.” “There were other clubs who were interested – I know Arsenal were looking at him – but the managerial side of things from Alan Pardew was the most alarming thing.”
“He’d gone up there, a kid from Burundi having lived in Coventry, which was his club and he respected it, but probably couldn’t turn the move down.”
“It was because of peer pressure from his family – ‘take it, it’s good money’ – and a lot of issues surrounding it.”
“Sometimes kids at that age just can’t turn it down.”
Alan Pardew could certainly be ruthless with players and once he decided he didn’t like them or didn’t rate them for whatever reason – he simply stopped playing them.
It has happened to other players too – like Jonas Gutierrez and Hatem Ben Arfa as two other good examples.
Gael Bigirimana is now 22 and back at Coventry on a one year deal and we hope he can can resurrect what at one time was a potentially glittering career.